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