Bladder cancer involves the uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells in the bladder. The chance of curing bladder cancer depends on the individual and how advanced the cancer is.

Bladder cancer occurs when cells in the urinary bladder tissue start to divide uncontrollably. As more cancer cells begin to develop, they can form a tumor. Over time, these cells may spread outside the bladder and to other parts of the body.

There are different types of bladder cancer, and many treatment options are available. Depending on several factors, such as the cancer stage, it may be possible to cure bladder cancer.

This article will explore whether bladder cancer is curable. Read on to find out more about treatment options and factors that may affect treatment.

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Curing cancer means that a person shows no signs of cancer after treatment. It also means that the cancer will never return.

This is different from cancer remission, another common term in cancer treatment. A person may be in partial or complete remission. Partial remission means that cancer symptoms have decreased, while complete remission means that the symptoms are completely gone.

In some cases, doctors may consider a person’s cancer cured if it stays in remission for at least 5 years. But it is possible for certain types of cancer to come back after that time period.

It is possible to cure certain cases of bladder cancer. The chance of finding a cure depends on the individual and how much the cancer has spread. The cancer stage indicates how advanced it is.

Non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer

This category includes stage 0 and stage 1 of bladder cancer.

Stage 0

Stage 0 is the earliest stage of bladder cancer. In this stage, the cancer remains localized in the bladder’s inner lining. Most people in this stage typically undergo surgery and then chemotherapy.

In many cases, this treatment is enough to cure stage 0 bladder cancer. Evidence suggests that survival rates for this stage are 90–98%.

Stage 1

In stage 1 bladder cancer, cancer cells have spread into the bladder wall’s connective tissue but have not yet spread into the muscle of the bladder wall. Stage 1 bladder cancer may require multiple surgeries as well as chemotherapy. The survival rate for stage 1 is around 85%.

Muscle-invasive bladder cancer

This includes stage 2 bladder cancer and beyond.

Stage 2

By stage 2, the cancer has reached the bladder wall’s muscle layer. Treatment for this stage may require a radical cystectomy, which involves removing the entire bladder. It may also involve radiation and chemotherapy for people who are eligible for these treatments.

Because stage 2 cancer is more advanced, it may return after these treatments. Doctors may prescribe immunotherapy medications for as long as 1 year to try to prevent this. The survival rate for stage 2 is about 45%.

Stage 3

Stage 3 bladder cancer involves the spread of cancer tissue beyond the bladder. Cancer may have reached nearby organs or lymph nodes. In most cases, chemotherapy and bladder removal are the standard treatments for this stage.

People who have other health concerns may not be eligible for standard treatment. Immunotherapy, radiation, and chemotherapy are other options that may help. The survival rate for stage 3 is about 35%.

Stage 4

In stage 4 bladder cancer, cancer tissue has spread widely throughout the body. The cancer may not be curable at this point. It is often difficult to fully remove cancer that has reached this advanced stage. Therefore, a doctor may treat this stage with medications such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy drugs.

People with stage 4 bladder cancer may be eligible for experimental treatments or clinical trials. The survival rate for stage 4 is about 7%.

Starting treatment early is the best way to improve the likelihood of a cure, regardless of cancer stage. A person can speak with a medical professional to learn more about recovering from different stages of bladder cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 83,000 new cases of bladder cancer will occur in the United States in 2023. Finding the right bladder cancer treatment depends on the individual and the type of cancer.

Specific factors that can affect treatment decisions include:

  • age
  • cancer stage
  • potential side effects
  • underlying health conditions

Many people with bladder cancer receive surgical treatment. If the cancer is in an early stage, they may undergo a minor surgery to remove cancer cells. In more advanced cases, a surgeon may need to remove the bladder and other affected tissue.

Age can also affect treatment for bladder cancer. Older people may have more underlying conditions that can affect their treatment. Treatment may require a tailored approach that considers a person’s overall health.

Finally, previous cancer treatments may affect ongoing treatment decisions. People undergoing certain treatments may be ineligible for some medications or medical procedures.

There are many treatment options for bladder cancer available today. Some of the most common bladder cancer treatment options are:

  • radiation
  • surgery
  • chemotherapy

Some standard treatment options, such as surgery, may be more appropriate for treating bladder cancer in the early stages. But some people may not be eligible for these treatments or may have advanced bladder cancer that does not respond to standard care.

These people may benefit from immunotherapy and targeted therapy. Immunotherapy uses the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells. In targeted therapy, doctors prescribe medications designed to attack specific types of cancer tissue.

To learn more about bladder cancer treatment options, speak with a doctor. Only a medical professional can provide individual treatment recommendations.

Bladder cancer begins in the inner lining of the bladder. As it progresses, cancer cells gradually spread to distant parts of the body.

It is possible to cure bladder cancer, but the likelihood of a cure is highest for people in the early stages of this disease. When cancer has spread widely throughout the body, it becomes more difficult to completely remove.

However, scientists are continuing to develop innovative treatments for late stage bladder cancer. People with bladder cancer now have a range of available treatment options tailored to every stage. With prompt treatment and proper follow-up, it is possible to recover from bladder cancer.