Bladder Cancer

The bladder cancer team at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center treats every type and stage of bladder cancer, from early to advanced. This includes rare variants that other physicians may never see. People with bladder cancer have better outcomes if they receive care at a center, like ours, where experienced doctors treat many people with this disease.

We bring the same expertise to related cancers of the upper urinary tract. These include cancer of the ureter or renal pelvis. Much of the information on our bladder cancer webpages applies to these cancers, too.

Our patients with bladder or other urothelial cancer often join clinical trials — led by world-renowned doctors from Fred Hutch and UW Medicine — to get access to promising therapies that are not available everywhere.

Your First Appointment

Based on your exact needs, your first appointment will be either with the team in our Bladder Cancer Multispecialty Clinic or with a urologic oncologist or medical oncologist who specializes in bladder and other urinary tract cancers.

From the first time you come to see us, your specialized cancer team will begin getting to know you and your family to best address your needs. We also have nurse navigators. They are here to help schedule your appointments, help you navigate smoothly through our system and make sure that we answer all your questions and concerns.

Learn About Bladder Cancer

Most bladder cancers are a type called urothelial cancer. But there are many rare histologic types, called variants. Some examples are squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, micropapillary, sarcomatoid, nested, plasmacytoid and neuroendocrine variants. 

The extent of the cancer — how far it has spread — matters, too. Your care team needs to know if your cancer sits on or in the first lining of your bladder (non-muscle invasive), if it goes into the bladder muscle wall (muscle-invasive) or if it has spread to distant parts of your body (metastatic).

Facts & Resources

Treatment for Bladder Cancer

You are unique, and your care team will design a treatment plan specifically for — and with — you. Fred Hutch physicians with knowledge and experience in bladder and other urothelial cancers will design your personalized treatment plan and provide your care.

Many people with bladder cancer have surgery to remove just their tumor or sometimes their entire bladder. But surgery is not always needed or possible. Other treatments may be used along with, or instead of, surgery. They include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy, among others. We offer all these options based on your needs.


Bladder Cancer Care Team

At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, we surround you with experts who focus completely on cancer care. A handful of people make up the core of your care team. You will have one or more oncologists who specialize in medicine-based treatments, radiation therapy or surgery for bladder cancer and other urinary tract cancers. At some visits, you will see an advanced practice provider who works closely with your patient. A patient care coordinator will schedule your visits.  

Care Team

Our Approach to Treatment

The safest, most effective and most widely accepted therapies for cancer are known as the “standard of care.” For many patients, these therapies will be a large part of their treatment. At Fred Hutch, we provide all standard therapies for urinary tract cancers. We know how to choose the right ones for you and how to deliver them to give you the best chance at a full recovery.

Our physicians and researchers are always asking how we can make cancer treatments more effective and reduce side effects as much as possible. This is why we do clinical trials (also called clinical studies). Through these studies, we are able to offer you therapies that aren’t offered everywhere. A trial therapy today may become the new standard of care tomorrow.

Along with treating your cancer, a group of world-class professionals is here to support you. This team includes nurses, dietitians, physical therapists, social workers and psychologists. We also bring in supportive care services for your physical, mental and emotional well-being. 

In this video, Dr. Petros Grivas and Dr. Jonathan Wright discuss what people diagnosed with bladder cancer should know, including questions to ask their doctor, current treatment options and the latest research in bladder cancer. · Cancer.Net

caregiver with family member

Role of the Caregiver

When someone close to you needs treatment for bladder or another urothelial cancer, you might step into the role of caregiver. Being a caregiver can mean many things, from lending a hand with daily living tasks to helping with medical decisions. It can also mean dealing with your own emotions, thoughts and stress.

At Fred Hutch, caregivers are valuable members of a patient’s care team. We see every day that your presence and your support make a difference. We know that what your friend or family member is going through affects you, too.

Part of our mission is to help you take care of yourself. Caring for yourself is good for your physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health. It also helps you give your best to your loved one. Our social workers, Spiritual Health team and Patient and Family Resource Center staff are here to help support you.

Dr. Jonathan Wright

“We’re not treating a disease. We’re treating a person, and we figure out which treatments fit best for each individual.”

— Jonathan L. Wright, MD, MS, FACS, urologic oncologist

Latest Treatments and Clinical Trials

Physicians and scientists from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and UW Medicine are testing new treatments for bladder cancer and other cancers of the urinary tract and discovering new ways to use current treatments. 

Through this work, we are looking for answers to three main questions: How can we do even better at detecting these cancers early? How can we make treatments safer and more effective? How can we make treatments easier on patients?

We have been part of, and led, many clinical trials of promising therapies that later became the standard of care.

We have many clinical trials testing a variety of approaches for bladder and other urothelial cancers. Some of the therapies we are studying are:

  • New immunotherapies
  • New targeted therapies
  • Different combinations of treatments for people with different types and stages of disease
  • Nutrition therapy to improve surgery outcomes 

When your care team designs your treatment plan, they will give you the choice to join clinical trials that match your situation. If you decide to join one, you will see the same doctors and nurses as you would for standard therapy.

Your care team will talk with you about if you might want to join a study and why. This can help you make the decision that is best for you.

Related News

All news
Cancer care: From ‘sledgehammer’ to precision cellular therapy AACR progress report: new immunotherapies improve outcomes, but access to care and clinical trials for many still lags September 15, 2023
Researchers discover molecular fail-safe that keeps bladder tissues from turning cancerous Bladder cells’ strategy blocks cancer-causing genetic programs, could be new therapeutic target April 20, 2023
Dr. Andrew Hsieh elected member of American Society for Clinical Investigation Physician-scientist demonstrated central role protein synthesis plays in cancer February 9, 2022