Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is the fourth most frequently diagnosed cancer in men and the 10th most frequently diagnosed cancer in women. Bladder cancer is most common in older adults - less than one percent of cases occur in people under 40.

Bladder cancer that is limited to just the inner lining of the bladder is called superficial and is the easiest form of bladder cancer to treat. About 75 percent of all bladder cancers are detected at this early stage, and the survival rate is greater than 90 percent. Treatment becomes more difficult and the survival rate decreases if the cancer has spread beyond the bladder's inner lining. Surgical removal of the bladder (radical cystectomy) is the most effective treatment for bladder cancer that has invaded the muscle wall of the bladder.

Mayo Clinic researchers are investigating many different treatment approaches to treating bladder cancer. In addition to continuously refining surgical treatment options, they are evaluating new chemotherapy regimens for advanced and metastatic bladder cancer. For example, one strategy being investigated currently is chemotherapy given prior to cystectomy (neoadjuvant chemotherapy). Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is the first step toward bladder preservation and allows physicians to observe whether the chemotherapy is working.

The following are summaries of recent and current areas of research on bladder cancer.

  • Establishment of a comprehensive database of surgically treated bladder cancer. This database will include our experience with bladder cancer over the past two and a half decades. It will contain surgical, clinical, and pathological information as well as detailed follow-up. It stands to become one of the largest bladder cancer databases in the world and will allow us to perform detailed studies of the natural history of this disease as well as to conduct clinical and basic science studies
  • Investigation of the role of the immune system in bladder cancer
  • Investigation of tumor markers and their ability to predict outcome and response to therapy
  • Investigation of the role of adjuvant chemotherapy in lymph node positive bladder cancer
  • New reconstructive techniques that do not require the use of a bowel segment thus significantly reducing the morbidity associated with radical cystectomy (bladder removal)
  • New chemotherapy regimens for metastatic and locally advanced bladder cancer