Individuals with bladder lesions can choose from a variety of treatments. Noncancerous lesions can be cauterized. The four standard treatments for cancerous lesions include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, biologic therapy, and surgery. Treatments being tested in clinical trials include chemoprevention and photodynamic therapy. One of the surgical options is radical cystectomy, a procedure that involves removing the bladder, lymph nodes, and any nearby organs that are cancerous.
It is possible to eliminate a bladder lesion by burning it off. This technique is called fulguration of the bladder. Doctors use tools such as an electrocautery or laser to perform this procedure. Fulguration may be used in cases of interstitial cystitis and in patients that have Hunner's ulcers. Patients undergoing this procedure are given general or spinal anesthesia.
Cancerous lesions can be treated with chemotherapy. This form of treatment kills the cancer cells and stops them from dividing. Patients can receive chemotherapy orally or have it injected into a muscle or vein. It is common for patients with bladder tumors to receive the chemotherapy through a tube inserted into their urethra. When the drug enters the bloodstream, it can reach the cancerous cells.
Radiation therapy involves using high energy x-rays to destroy cancerous cells. Patients with cancerous bladder lesions can receive either external or internal radiation therapy. For external radiation therapy, a machine is placed near the body and directs radiation towards the bladder cancer. Internal radiation therapy is administered by inserting a radioactive substance directly into the lesion or in tissue that is nearby.
Photodynamic therapy can also be used to kill cancerous cells. It involves using a drug that is only activated when exposed to light. The patient receives the medication intravenously (IV). Once the drug enters into the body it remains in the cancerous cells longer than in normal cells. When the drugs are activated by a specific type of light, the cancer cells die.
Some cancer patients may be interested in clinical trials to treat their bladder lesions. These trials play a pivotal role in cancer research, testing new cancer treatments to determine safety and effectiveness. Those who participate, help to improve the way cancer is treated in the future.
Surgery is an option for those with early-stage or invasive bladder cancer. In early-stage cancer, a segmental cystectomy can be performed. A surgeon will remove only the portion of the bladder that contains the bladder lesions. If the cancer has invaded the deepest layers of the bladder wall, surgery to remove the entire bladder may be necessary. Those undergoing surgery as a treatment option risk infection and bleeding.