Living Without A Bladder


SEATTLE, Wash. (Ivanhoe Newswire)—According to the American Cancer Society, bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men. Even though it is less common in women, bladder cancer tends to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage for women. Of the patients diagnosed with bladder cancer, 30 percent will need to have their bladder removed. Here are more details on options for patients living without a bladder.

Piano, biking, synchronized swimming. This former schoolteacher was ready for an active retirement. But not long after retiring …

“I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, triple negative,” recalled Terrie Asplund.

Surgery and chemo cured her of breast cancer. But seven years later, she had another battle with cancer. This time bladder cancer.

“The cancer was aggressive. It didn’t respond to the treatment,” Terrie described.

For Terrie, dealing with cancer again was not the hard part.

“I got scared when the urologist told me you have to have your bladder removed and I would never swim again,” Terrie shared.

“And that was completely not the case,” Jonathan Wright, MD, MS, FACS, professor of urology at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance stated.

(Read Full Interview)

Dr. Wright told Terrie swimming would not be an issue with an ileal conduit.

“A lot of people are familiar with colostomies for patients with colon cancer. This is a urostomy for draining to a bag continuously for bladder cancer,” explained Dr. Wright.

In one surgery doctors removed Terrie’s bladder and reconstructed her urinary system using the ileal conduit. At home, Terrie found the conduit easy to use and conceal.

“It takes about two minutes to change. I can still wear the same clothes I wanted to,” Terrie added.

And less than a year after surgery, she was competing again.

“It’s amazing. I never would have thought you could swim for an hour and a half, upside down, twirling and it would all stay on!” shared Terrie.

Dr. Wright says since the incision site is a potential weak spot, it could put patients at a higher risk for a hernia and infections early on. Staying hydrated can lower that risk.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4904

BACKGROUND: An estimated 83,730 adults (64,280 men and 19,450 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with bladder cancer this year, and smoking accounts for 47 percent of these cases. Among men, bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer, and men are four times more likely than women to be diagnosed with the disease. About 90 percent of people with bladder cancer are older than 55, and the average age people are diagnosed is 73. The general 5-year survival rate for people with bladder cancer is 77 percent. However, survival rates depend on factors like the type and stage of bladder cancer that is diagnosed.


SIGNS, SYMPTOMS, AND DIAGNOSIS: People with bladder cancer may experience blood or blood clots in the urine, pain or burning sensation during urination, frequent urination, feeling the need to urinate throughout the night, feeling the need to urinate but not being able to pass urine, and lower back pain on one side of the body. Bladder cancer is most often diagnosed after a person tells their doctor about blood in the urine but could be a sign of other conditions, such as an infection or kidney stones. A test that can find out whether there is cancer is cytology, in which the urine is studied under a microscope to look for cancer cells. When the bladder is removed, urine needs to exit the body in a new way, through a urinary diversion. In all types of urinary diversions, a part of the intestine is surgically converted to either a passage tube for urine to exit the body, or a reservoir to store urine. There are three types of urinary diversion surgeries: ileal conduit urinary diversion, Indiana pouch reservoir, and a neobladder-to-urethra diversion.


HOPE FOR BLADDER CANCER: Scientists are hopeful that a new bladder cancer treatment, serving as a second or third line of treatment after chemotherapy and immunotherapy will potentially prolong some patients’ lives by years. The new drug, known as enfortumab vedotin, is part of a new class of drugs known as ‘antibody-drug conjugates’ (ADC). These work by having an antibody attach to a chemotherapy-like drug. The antibody specifically targets and attaches to the cancer cells, bringing with it the chemotherapy-like drug, allowing it to only act upon those cancer cells and ignore normal cells in the body. Nick James, professor of prostate and bladder cancer research at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said, “Not only are the results with this drug impressive in their own right, but the underlying mechanism is an important technical development. It is highly likely that this opens the door to further treatments based on this system.”





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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Jonathan Wright, MD, MS, FACS, Professor of Urology

Read the entire Q&A