Treatment Programs

Bladder Cancer

The Claire & John Bertucci Center for Genitourinary Cancers, one of the largest and most experienced centers for bladder cancer treatment in New England.

In the 1980s, physicians at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center helped pioneer a new bladder-sparing technique for individuals whose cancer had penetrated the bladder’s muscle wall. Our Claire & John Bertucci Center for Genitourinary Cancers remains one of the few centers that can preserve bladders because of the high degree of synergy among our specialists.

We treat hundreds of genitourinary cancers annually, including rare and complex cancer. This means you benefit from extensive experience in diagnosing and treating forms of bladder cancer like yours.

Innovative ApproachesThe cornerstone of our approach is communication among patients, family members and medical specialists to develop a unanimous treatment plan. We have pioneered bladder cancer diagnosis and treatment approaches that save lives and lifestyles. These include:

  • Bladder-sparing techniques
  • Minimally invasive surgical procedures
  • Innovative chemotherapy approaches

Multidisciplinary Patient CareOur individualized, multidisciplinary approach ensures that all the medical specialists required for your care are working together and with you and your referring physician to develop and deliver the most effective treatment. Our approach involves initial meetings that will help you understand your options and ongoing discussions to let you know how treatment is progressing and if changes are needed. Treatment may involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or some combination of these therapies.

At your first appointment, you will meet the genitourinary cancer specialists who will be involved in your care:

  • Urologists and surgical oncologists experienced in the latest bladder cancer surgery approaches
  • Radiation oncologists who specialize in delivering the optimal therapeutic dose while protecting healthy tissue
  • Medical oncologists to prescribe the most effective chemotherapy treatments

In addition, you may also see:

  • Pathologists specializing in urologic cancers
  • Radiologists specializing in genitourinary cancer imaging
  • Oncology nurses and nurse practitioners who specialize in cancer care
  • Oncology psychiatrists and social workers experienced in helping with the cognitive side effects of cancer and treatment, as well the emotional and spiritual side of the cancer experience
  • A nutritionist to help you with questions about diet and nutrition during treatment
  • Palliative care providers to improve quality of life

Members of your care team meet regularly with you and your referring physician to ensure clear communication and seamless coordination of care.

Expertise in Diagnosing and Staging CancersCorrect diagnosis and staging of your cancer is critical to developing the right treatment plan. Our pathologists are highly sub-specialized. They work exclusively with genitourinary cancers and are familiar with genetic “tumor markers” that can help pinpoint treatment.

Our diagnostic experts are aided by the most advanced imaging technology, including nanoparticle-enhanced MRI, an imaging technology developed here that can find cancerous lymph nodes missed by biopsies. This expertise translates into faster, more precise diagnoses, providing the foundation for the most effective treatment.

Standard and Novel Medical TreatmentsYour medical oncologist will determine which therapies will be most successful at treating your cancer. Our patients have access to traditional and innovative approaches that have demonstrated effectiveness against early and advanced stages of bladder cancers, as well as support programs to help cope with side effects.

Excellence in Surgical CareBladder cancer patients are cared for by surgical oncologists who are sub-specialized in the treatment of genitourinary cancers and who are recognized worldwide for their organ-sparing techniques. Many of our patients are candidates for minimally invasive surgical procedures we helped pioneer. In many cases, patients can even be treated as outpatients with only local anesthesia and light sedation. These approaches reduce complications, hasten recovery and minimize hospitalization time.

We perform a large number of these procedures annually, and studies have shown patients’ outcomes improve when they are treated in facilities where similar procedures are regularly performed.

Among the minimally invasive surgical procedures offered here in addition to conventional surgery are:

  • Bladder-sparing surgery: Combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy that allows patients to retain their bladder
  • Laparoscopic cystectomy: Removal of the bladder using several small incisions
  • Laser ablation: Tumor destruction using a laser beam

Pioneering Radiation TherapiesOur radiation oncology team is perhaps the most experienced with bladder cancer in the United States. Radiation techniques are carefully chosen for precision and safety and include 3-dimensional conformal radiation and intensity modulated radiation therapy.

Learn more about radiation therapy.

Treating Cancer through Clinical TrialsWe offer one of the region’s largest clinical trial programs in genitourinary cancers. Current trials are designed to develop innovative strategies to treat invasive bladder cancer and to evaluate biologic predictors of cancer outcomes.

View our open trials for bladder cancer.

Developing Better Therapies through ResearchLaboratory and clinical studies continually improve approaches to bladder cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment. As one of the region’s foremost research centers in genitourinary cancers, we are developing promising new screening and treatment approaches, including studies to determine how cancer circumvents the action of targeted therapies and whether cycling to other new agents or different combinations and doses may help.

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer occurs when there are abnormal, cancerous cells growing in the bladder.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides cancer patients and their families with information and resources for living with cancer.

Ostomy Support Group

We welcome patients with a new or existing colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy, and their family and friends, to monthly meetings of the Massachusetts General Hospital Ostomy Support Group.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides cancer patients and their families with information and resources for living with cancer.

Ostomy Support Group

We welcome patients with a new or existing colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy, and their family and friends, to monthly meetings of the Massachusetts General Hospital Ostomy Support Group.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

Cancer Center

55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 617-726-5130

Discover the Cancer Center patient experience

Our approach to patient care unites cancer specialists across the hospital to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient, ensuring the best possible outcomes.