Immunotherapy – An Alternative Method For Bladder Cancer Treatment

Bladder cancer treatmentBladder cancer treatment depends on the type of cancer, your overall health, age and the stage at which you are.

Bladder cancer treatment includes four stages. They are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy.

Surgery for bladder cancer treatment depends at what stage you are. If you are at early stages, an instrument is inserted through the urethra to remove the tumor. Radical or partial removal of bladder is done to remove the bladder cancer that has spread to the other tissues.

Complications are urine blockage, infection and urinary stones. Segmental cystectomy (partial removal of the bladder) is used if you are having adenocarcinomas or squamous cell carcinomas. Radiation therapy is done after the segmental cystectomy.

Urinary tract diversion is a newer method to track this disease. This includes the newer methods like:

  • The neo bladder
  • The continent urinary reservoir and
  • The ileal conduit.

In the neo bladder procedure, an intestinal pouch is attached to the urethra so that you can urinate as usual without any stoma. Some abdominal cramping is experienced by some neobladder fills.

Complications in this procedure are pneumonia (lung inflammation), bowel (intestine) obstruction, urethral blockage, blood clots and ureteral reflux (back-flow).

The continent urinary reservoir is a diversion technique which requires the colon as an internal pouch to store urine. In order to prevent the back-up of urine into kidneys and ureters, a pouch is refashioned. Catheter is used to drain the pouch. A band-aid is used to conceal the stoma.

The ileal conduit (urinary channel) is created by a small piece of bowel surgically. The ureters are attached to bowel segment on one side and the stoma is made on the surface of the body on the other end. To the stoma, a urine collecting bag is attached and is worn all the time.

Some of the complications are upper urinary tract damage, pneumonia, skin breakdown around the stoma, blood clots and urinary tract infection (UTI).

Chemotherapy is done to destroy the cancer cells by using the drugs. It can be administered in early bladder stages, intravenously (through a vein) or infused into the bladder through the urethra or orally. It can be given to you before or after the surgery.

The drugs commonly used are doxorubicin (Rubex®), valrubicin (Valstar®) and mitomycin. The side effects are

  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Excessive bleeding or bruising
  • Bladder irritation
  • Anemia and
  • Weakness

Radiation is used to kill the cancer cells by x-rays. The radiation therapy is used to destroy the tumor after the surgery if any cells remains.

Certain side effects are skin irritation, fibrosis (buildup of fibrous tissue), inflammation of the rectum (proctitis), hematuria, impotence (erectile dysfunction) and incontinence.

Immunotherapy (biological therapy) is used for treating superficial bladder cancer. This gives the ability to fight against the disease. A vaccine is infused into the bladder through urethra and is derived by the bacteria causing tuberculosis.

It is done once a week for 6 weeks in order to kill the cancer cells by stimulating the immune system. BCG is used with the interferon.

The side effects are inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis), flu-like symptoms and inflammation of the bladder (cystitis).

When the bacteria enter the blood streams, high fever is caused. It is life threatening and needs the antibiotic treatment. Patients with gross hematuria are not given the immunotherapy.

Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy are used for bladder cancer treatment.