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.

 

On this page you will find information to help you:

Information about Bladder Cancer

Learn More about this Condition

The bladder is a triangle-shaped, hollow organ that is located in the lower abdomen.  The bladder stores urine. Cancer that begins in the tissues of the bladder is called bladder cancer.

Types of bladder cancer include:

  • Transitional cell (urothelial) carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma

Bladder Cancer Diagnosis
A diagnosis of bladder cancer may be made through tests and procedures including:

  • Medical history and physical exam
  • Rectal or vaginal exam
  • Cystoscopy
  • Biopsy
  • Laboratory tests of the urine
  • Imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans

Bladder Cancer Treatment
Bladder surgery is one option for treating bladder cancer. Examples include:

  • Transurethral resection: Removal of a cancerous tumor, or abnormal growth
  • Segmental cystectomy: Removal of the portion of the bladder containing a cancerous tumor
  • Radical cystectomy: Removal of the bladder along with nearby lymph nodes and nearby organs that contain cancer cells

Options for nonsurgical treatment of bladder cancer include:

  • Chemotherapy kills cancer cells through the use of intravenous (IV) or oral drugs
  • Biological therapy—e.g. Bacillus Calmette- Guérin (BCG) treatment, in which a solution is placed in the bladder to stimulate the immune system to kill the cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation beams to kill or shrink tumors while saving healthy tissue
  • Clinical trials may provide access to new and promising therapies for bladder cancer

Learn more about bladder cancer on our patient education page.

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Our Genitourinary Team

New patients are generally seen within a week of referral. At your first appointment, you will meet the genitourinary cancer specialists who will be involved in your care, including:

  • Urologists and surgical oncologists experienced in the latest testicular cancer surgery approaches
  • Radiation oncologists who specialize in delivering the optimal therapeutic dose while protecting healthy tissue
  • Medical oncologists to discuss overall prognosis and review the available treatment approaches

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 

Matthew R. Smith, MD, PhD

See the Complete Team List

Matthew R. Smith, MD, PhD
Director, Genitourinary Malignancies Program

 

 

 

  

 

See the complete team list treating Bladder Cancer

 

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Our Approach

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

We treat hundreds of genitourinary cancers every year, including rare and complex cancers.  You will benefit from our extensive experience in diagnosing and treating forms of bladder cancer like yours.

Innovative Approaches
The cornerstone of our approach is communication among patients, family members and medical specialists. We have pioneered bladder cancer diagnosis and treatment approaches that include: 

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

Expertise in Diagnosing and Staging Cancers
Correct diagnosis and staging of your cancer is critical to developing the right treatment plan. Our highly sub-specialized pathologists work exclusively with genitourinary cancers.  They 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 Treatments
Your 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

For appropriately selected patients, we offer novel bladder preserving strategies that combine transurethral resection, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Excellence in Surgical Care
Our surgical oncologists sub-specialize in the treatment of genitourinary cancers and are recognized worldwide for their organ-sparing techniques. Many of our patients are candidates for minimally invasive surgical procedures we helped pioneer and can even be treated as outpatients with only local anesthesia and light sedation.

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

Pioneering Radiation Therapies
Our experienced radiation oncology team carefully chooses precise and safe techniques, including 3-dimensional conformal radiation and intensity modulated radiation therapy.

Learn more about radiation therapy

Research and Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies of new drugs, new combinations of drugs or already approved drugs being studied to treat patients in new/different ways. They may include new drug doses or new ways (schedules) to give the drugs. Clinical trials are run under strict guidelines. Their purpose is to help find out whether new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard (current) treatment. At Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, there are several clinical trials open for the treatment of breast cancer that use the latest in cancer treatments.

Cancer is increasingly becoming a disease in which the genetic make-up of each individual cancer drives therapy. The Center for Genitourinary Cancers also has access to clinical trials involving these targeted therapy approaches.

Click below to find listings of our current clinical and targeted therapy trials.

Find Clinical Trials for this ConditionFind Targeted Therapy Clinical Trials for this Condition

The Cancer Center also offers the Lazarex-MGH Cancer Care Equity Program, which strives to promote awareness about and access to cancer clinical trials through community outreach and education, financial assistance, and patient navigation. Click here to find out more about this program.

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Contact Us
If you have any questions or would like to speak with one of our doctors, please call the Claire and John Bertucci Center for Genitourinary Cancers at 617-724-4000.

 

 

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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 Center

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Center is a program that offers a range of support resources around the Cancer Center. The center has an ongoing mission to make support services, as well as respite and community-building areas, more accessible to patients and families throughout the Cancer Center.

The PACT Program

The Marjorie E. Korff PACT program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides psycho-educational support for parents who are patients.

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 Center

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Center is a program that offers a range of support resources around the Cancer Center. The center has an ongoing mission to make support services, as well as respite and community-building areas, more accessible to patients and families throughout the Cancer Center.

The PACT Program

The Marjorie E. Korff PACT program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides psycho-educational support for parents who are patients.

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

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