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Bladder & Kidney Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment

If you have cancer that affects the bladder or kidneys, we can help. At Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, you’ll receive care from cancer specialists who have experience and expertise in treating people with kidney and urological cancers.

Our multidisciplinary team that cares for people with bladder or kidney cancer includes experienced and highly skilled surgeons, oncologists and other specialists who work with other health care professionals to develop a targeted, focused approach to diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Every treatment plan is uniquely developed for each person, taking into account his or her needs and particular type of cancer.

Most bladder cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the cancer is highly treatable. But because bladder cancer often recurs, it’s vital to be treated in a program such as the one at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health that monitors patients to ensure their continued health and recovery.

Diagnosis of bladder and kidney cancer

Tests and procedures used to diagnose bladder and kidney cancer may include:

  • Medical history and physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests to check for blood or cancer cells
  • Cystoscopy, which uses a scope to enable your doctor to see inside your urethra and bladder and remove a sample for testing (biopsy)
  • Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scan, MRI and ultrasound; specialized imaging may include:
  • CT urogram, in which a contrast dye is injected and flows into your kidneys, ureters and bladder. X-ray images taken during the test provide a detailed view of your urinary tract and help your doctor identify any areas that might be cancerous.
  • Retrograde pyelogram, an X-ray exam used to get a detailed look at the upper urinary tract. During this test, your doctor threads a thin tube (catheter) through your urethra and into your bladder to inject contrast dye, which then flows into your kidneys while X-ray images are captured.  

Bladder and kidney cancer treatment

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is on the forefront of new developments for treatment of bladder and kidney cancer.

Kidney cancer treatment

With the advent of innovative, FDA-approved drugs and other approaches, kidney cancer cells can be targeted differently than in the past.

Surgery and chemotherapy are also used in the treatment of kidney cancer. The surgical expertise at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is unequaled, and minimally invasive procedures are often used that shorten your hospital stay and speed up recovery. State-of-the-art chemotherapy is also a hallmark of kidney cancer treatment. With early diagnosis and proper treatment, people can recover and resume their lives while attentive follow-up is done to ensure their continued health and wellness.

Bladder cancer treatment

Surgery, radiation or chemotherapy are all options in the treatment of bladder cancer. Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is one of two programs in the state to offer minimally invasive robotic procedures that allow for shorter hospital stays and faster recovery times. Our surgeons often use an innovative two-team approach in which the first team extracts the cancer and the second team reconstructs the genitourinary tract, which is the system of organs concerned with the production and excretion of urine, as well as reproduction. When appropriate, our radiation oncologists use external radiation in combination with chemotherapy to preserve the bladder without the use of surgery.

Our urology team has been a leader in bladder replacement surgery in the Northwest for more than 30 years. To be considered for bladder replacement surgery, a person needs to have his or her bladder removed as treatment for bladder cancer. Also, those with neurogenic bladders or congenital anomalies requiring them to have a urine bypass from the bladder may be candidates for this surgery. Many existing patients with a standard ileal conduit urinary diversion can also be successfully treated with a continent bladder replacement.

Today, our team performs the ileo-bladder replacement procedure, which some people term the “Kock pouch diversion to the urethra.” This procedure offers the advantage of nearly perfect daytime urinary continence and rare problems with nighttime urinary control. Most patients—both men and women—can urinate without the need for catheterizing to empty their bladders.

Bladder and kidney cancer second opinions

If you’ve been diagnosed with bladder or kidney cancer, learn more about second opinions  and how they may help you find all your available treatment options.

Bladder and kidney cancer research and clinical trials

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is a leader in cancer research. Learn more about research and clinical trial options

Bladder and kidney cancer wellness and support

Cancer treatment includes more than just treating physical symptoms. Learn more about our comprehensive wellness and support services.

Bladder and kidney cancer specialists

To learn more about bladder and kidney cancer care or to make an appointment, find a specialist near you.