Bladder Cancer/Urothelial Cancer

Northwestern Medicine physicians offer advanced laparoscopic and robotic surgical techniques in addition to multidisciplinary treatment in collaboration with Northwestern Medicine’s medical and radiation oncologists.

Clinical Investigator, Joshua Meeks, MD, PhD, is researching the underlying genetics of bladder cancer to develop new treatments for the disease while Shilajit Kundu, MD, is conducting research on cancer outcomes and quality-of-life issues.

The Department of Urology is also participating in several clinical trials to test the efficacy of new therapies and technologies for bladder cancer and to identify effective ways to improve quality of life.

What is Bladder (Urothelial) Cancer?

The main function of the bladder is to hold urine until we are ready to urinate. As the conduit of urine from the kidneys, the urinary tract is exposed to carcinogens that are processed by the body.

The majority of bladder cancers develop from the lining of the bladder (80 percent), ureter/renal pelvis (10 percent), or urethra (10 percent). Overall, cancers of the urinary tract are the fourth most common cancers in men and sixth most common overall.

Men are four times more likely to develop bladder cancer, but women with bladder cancer have the same symptoms and are more likely to have aggressive forms of bladder cancer. Most bladder cancers can be treated with scopes and other treatments placed into the bladder, while more aggressive forms of bladder cancer are treated with bladder removal, radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy.