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Treating Early Stage Bladder Cancer: January 23, 2013

For George Furlan, blood in the urine turned into a worse case scenario.

“Within 10 days he found some cancer and a tumor in my bladder,” says George Furlan,.

There was a silver lining to his bladder cancer. It was caught at an early stage when it’s most treatable, says Furlan’s doctor Alejandro Miranda-Sousa, urologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

“Correct. Usually the low- grade cancer, the scrapping or removal of the tumor is done with no cuts all. Sometimes medication is given within the bladder; a form of chemotherapy or immunotherapy could be given to treat and prevent recurrences,” says Dr. Miranda-Sousa.

Low- grade tumors, like Furlan’s, can present like cauliflower with roots that grow into the bladder lining. In this instance, treatment included both the removal and chemotherapy.

“He said to me you’re doing fine but I have to cut one of the tumor and I left some of the roots which did not penetrate the wall yet. I want to take care of that by giving you my treatment for 6 weeks,” says Furlan.

Bladder cancer tends to recur; close to 50% of patients will battle it again.

“The follow up is to check the bladder every 3 months for the first 2 years after the tumor has been discovered. Many tumors come back as low a grade. Those are much more simple to treat and have a high rate of curing,” says Dr. Alejandro Mirando-Sousa.

When the cancer is caught early, the outlook is good. If it’s diagnosed in situ, meaning the layer of cells it where it began, patients have a 97% 5-year survival rate. If it’s stage 1- the rate is 70%. Patients with stage IV bladder cancer are rarely cured, making it important to check out any symptoms.

“Blood in the urine is most common, but obviously urgency, frequency, going to the bathroom very often at night, changes in the flow of urination. The most important thing I recommend to patients is periodically visit your doctor,” says Dr. Miranda-Sousa.

The vigilance paid off for Furlan.

“Everything was fine, the tumor completely disappear,” says Furlan.