Bladder Cancer Treatments

Our team of bladder cancer experts take the time to find what is the best personalized treatment plan for every individual patient. Your healthcare team will discuss options so that they can find the treatment that best suits you.

Intravesical Therapy

With intravesical therapy, we can manage recurrent bladder tumors by filling the bladder with medication that prevents recurrence of non-invasive bladder tumors. There are two types of intravesical therapy: immunotherapy and chemotherapy. Immunotherapy causes the body's own immune system to attack the cancer cells. Chemotherapy uses drugs to actively kill growing cancer cells. 

Robotic-Assisted Radical Cystectomy 

Robotic-assisted radical cystectomy is the removal of the bladder and surrounding lymph nodes using minimally invasive surgery. This procedure is often performed for patients with muscle invasive or aggressive bladder cancer. The robotic procedure allows surgeons to operate through a number of small incisions instead of a single large incision. Most robotic-assisted radical cystectomy patients may resume normal activities in as little as 6 weeks.    


Chemotherapy drugs are often used to treat cancer because it kills away the growing cancerous cells. There are two different ways chemotherapy can be administered: intravesical or systemic. For intravesical chemotherapy, the drug is put directly into the bladder. For systemic chemotherapy, the drug is given in pill form or injected into the bloodstream. 

Reconstruction Surgery

If cancer results in the damage or removal of your bladder, you will need a urinary diversion. Urinary diversion is one of several surgical techniques that allow your urinary tract to get around normal structures. It provides a way for you to release urine from the body when your urinary system becomes damaged or stops working. UI Health urology offers 3 types of urinary diversions: orthotopic neobladder, continent catheterizable reservoir, or ileal conduit.

Neobladder Reconstruction Surgery

Neobladder reconstruction surgery is a procedure where surgeons build a new bladder after the bladder is removed.  During the procedure, your surgeon will take a piece of your intestine that will be constructed into a new bladder. The neobladder will be placed in the same location as your original bladder and will be connected to your urethra. It is the most natural appearing urinary diversion but requires special maintenance.

Continent Catheterizable Reservoir

A continent catheterizable reservoir is a urinary diversion created by the surgeon that is attached to the abdomen or belly button. The surgeon will take a piece of the intestine that will be constructed into a special internal pouch. You will pass a thin tube, called a catheter, into the pouch periodically to empty the urine. This option may be used when it is not possible to place the pouch where the bladder was previously, or if the urethra is not functional to maintain urine control.

Ileal Conduit

An ileal conduit is a urinary diversion that is visible as an opening (stoma) on the abdomen. The surgeon uses a short piece of intestine to create the stoma. A specialized bag is attached over the stoma to catch the urine. The bag is simply emptied over a toilet to release the urine. This is a simple low maintenance option that does not require catheterization.

The urologic oncology team at UI Health works with the patient to determine the best urinary diversion option for each situation.