Navigating Your Way Through Common Women's Health Issues

Understanding The Treatment Options For Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer

Muscle invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) is an aggressive type of bladder cancer that spreads into the thick muscle of the internal bladder wall, which is called the detrusor muscle, and causes tumours to develop. The cancer cells present in this type of cancer can spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones or liver, so prompt treatment is key to getting MIBC under control. Here's an overview of the treatment options for this type of cancer:


As this type of cancer affects the muscle of the bladder, a partial or complete cystectomy is often required. The removal of the bladder is now usually carried out with robotic surgery, which prevents the need for a larger abdominal incision. A few small incisions are made in the abdomen and surgical instruments are passed through the openings to the bladder. The surgeon controls the instruments using a computer, and using this technique to perform a cystectomy is associated with less pain and a quicker recovery time.

A complete cystectomy will require a urinary diversion to be made to allow for the collection of urine after it leaves the kidneys. A stoma is the most common form of urinary diversion and involves the ureters being attached to a section of the small intestine, which is then diverted to the outside surface of the abdomen. Urine flows out through the stoma and is collected in a bag that can be emptied as necessary.

A partial cystectomy involves the removal of the part of the bladder that a tumour has grown on. Due to the aggressive nature of MIBC, partial cystectomies are carried out less frequently than complete cystectomies, but they can be an option when the cancer has been diagnosed early. With this procedure, the remaining bladder is stitched to repair the incision site and there's no need to create a urinary diversion.  


Chemotherapy can be deemed an appropriate option for some patients who are considered too high-risk to undergo cystectomy or who have been diagnosed early. The aim of chemotherapy is to prevent bladder loss and the spread of cancerous cells to other parts of the body. During and after a course of chemotherapy, patients are monitored using diagnostic imaging, such as CT scans, to confirm treatment has been successful and to check for any new tumour growth. Unfortunately, treating MIBC with chemotherapy is associated with a high rate of recurrence, but if surgery would put you at risk due to your age, weight or other factors, your doctor may suggest chemotherapy as a first-line treatment.

When you receive a bladder cancer diagnosis, you will likely have lots of questions relating to treatment, success rates and timescales. The answers to these types of questions are often dependent on your individual situation, so be sure to ask your doctor any questions you have before making decisions about your treatment.

To learn more about bladder cancer treatment, contact an oncologist in your area.