Thumbnail image of: Urinary System: Illustration
Thumbnail image of: Urostomy: Illustration

Cancer of the Bladder Discharge Information

What is cancer of the bladder?

The bladder is part of your urinary tract, which includes:

  • Kidneys, which make urine
  • Ureters, which are the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder
  • Bladder, which stores urine
  • Urethra, which is the tube that drains urine from the bladder

Cancer of the bladder (bladder cancer) is an abnormal growth of cells that form tumors in the lining of the bladder. A bladder tumor may be either noninvasive (superficial) or invasive. A noninvasive tumor is usually a small growth that has not yet grown into the bladder wall. An invasive tumor spreads into the bladder wall. If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is still bladder cancer, and is called metastatic bladder cancer.

There are different types and stages of bladder cancer based on what kind of cancer cells are found, where the tumor started, and where it has spread. Knowing your type and stage of bladder cancer helps your healthcare provider decide on the best treatment plan for you. It is important to diagnose and treat bladder cancer as soon as possible. The main goals of treatment are to kill the tumor cells, prevent a local cancer from spreading, and prevent metastatic cancer from spreading more than it already has.

In most cases, bladder tumors happen after the cells lining the urinary tract have been exposed to cancer-causing chemicals in the urine for many years. Chemicals in the urine can come from smoking cigarettes, working with chemicals, or taking certain medicines.

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

Bladder cancer can often be cured, depending on whether it is noninvasive or invasive, how large it was when you were diagnosed, and whether the cancer has spread. How long it takes to get better depends on your treatment, how well you recover, your overall health, and any complications you may have. You may need to make lifestyle changes to stay as healthy as possible or manage other treatments you may need.

Management

  • Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
    • Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
    • Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
    • Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
    • Talk to your provider before you use any other medicines, including nonprescription medicines, supplements, natural remedies, and vitamins.
  • Your provider may also prescribe medicines to:
    • Treat pain
    • Treat or prevent an infection
    • Treat or prevent anemia, which means you don’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to your body. Anemia may be caused by your cancer, your treatment, or other problems.
    • Treat or prevent side effects, such as nausea or constipation, from other treatments
    • Soften stool and reduce straining with a bowel movement
    • Relieve gas and bloating
    • Help your immune system fight cancer
  • If you have had surgery, to care for your surgical wound:
    • Keep your surgical wound clean.
    • If you are told to change the dressing on your surgical wound, wash your hands before changing the dressing and after disposing of the dressing.
  • If you have a urostomy:
    • The ureters are connected to a healthy piece of bowel and then to an opening in your belly, called a stoma. Urine will drain through the stoma and collect in a disposable bag (pouch) outside your body.
    • You will need to learn to care for your urostomy. The stoma must be kept clean and pouches must be emptied regularly so that they do not become too heavy and leak. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions for your type of pouch.
  • If you have a urinary diversion:
    • A pouch is created to collect urine inside your body. You will need to drain the pouch through a stoma several times a day with a flexible tube called a catheter.
  • Take care of your health. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Eat a healthy diet and try to keep a healthy weight. If you smoke, try to quit. If you want to drink alcohol, ask your healthcare provider how much is safe for you to drink. Learn ways to manage stress. Exercise according to your healthcare provider’s instructions.
  • You may need other treatments for your cancer after you leave the hospital. Treatments may include:
    • Chemotherapy (anticancer drugs), which uses medicine to kill cancer cells. Different types of chemotherapy may be given in the hospital, outpatient clinic, or at home.
    • Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation treatment may be done in the hospital or and outpatient clinic.

Appointments

  • Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments and routine tests.
  • Keep appointments for all routine testing you may need, which may be done to look for signs that the cancer has returned or has spread. Testing may include:
    • Blood tests to check for certain hormones, proteins, or chemicals that may be high if you have cancer
    • Bone X-rays: Pictures of your bones to check for cancer
    • Bone scan: A series of detailed pictures that are taken after your healthcare provider injects a small amount of radioactive material into your blood. The scan shows any areas of bone where the radioactive material is being absorbed.
    • Chest X-ray: Pictures of the inside of your chest to check for cancer
    • Computed tomography (CT) scan: A series of X-rays taken from different angles and arranged by a computer to show thin cross sections of the urinary system and other areas where the cancer may have spread
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A powerful magnetic field and radio wave are used to take pictures from different angles to show thin cross sections of the urinary system and other areas where the cancer may have spread
    • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: A series of detailed pictures that are taken after your healthcare provider injects a small amount of radioactive material into your blood. The scan shows areas where the radioactive material is being absorbed.
  • Talk with your provider about any questions or concerns you have.

Call emergency medical services or 911 if you have new or worsening:

  • Severe bleeding from your urostomy site
  • Large amounts of bright red blood in your urine

Do not drive yourself if you have any of these symptoms.

Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:

  • Bloating or pain in your belly
  • Blood in your urine
  • Drainage around the urostomy
  • Redness, bumps, blisters, or sores on your skin near the urostomy
  • Signs of infection around your surgical wound. These include:
    • The area around your wound is more red or painful
    • Your wound area is very warm to touch
    • You have blood, pus, or other fluid coming from the wound area
    • You have a fever of 100.5 degrees F (38.1 degrees C) or higher
    • You have chills or muscle aches

For more information:

Contact national and local organizations such as:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-12-19
Last reviewed: 2014-10-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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