Bladder Cancer

Hoag leads the way in Orange County for muscle-invasive and non-muscle invasive bladder cancer treatments. Our multidisciplinary, expert team specializes in bladder cancer care using research, advanced treatments and therapeutics. Hoag's exclusive technologies include MR-guided ViewRay MRIdian™ linear accelerator and DaVinci robotic surgical systems. With Hoag by your side, you've got what it takes to fight bladder cancer.


Surgical Expertise, Revolutionary Robotics, Pinpoint Precision

World-Class Bladder Cancer Care – Under One Roof at Hoag

At Hoag, our multidisciplinary urologic oncology team provides world-class, comprehensive bladder cancer care. Our team of fellowship-trained surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, precision medicine experts, researchers and a multidisciplinary support team are with you every step of the way, from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.

Our expert team is rounded out by a robust support program and a clinical nurse navigator, who will help coordinate your care and ensure you are supported every step of the way.

Meet the Bladder Cancer Team

Revolutionary Robotic Surgery Techniques

Hoag’s expert team has specialized expertise in minimally invasive robotic-assisted cystectomies using the DaVinci Robotics platform as well as traditional open surgeries, ensuring that the surgical approach is tailored to your individual case. Our urologic oncology team performs the highest number of robotic-assisted surgeries in Southern California.

Hoag is also one of the few hospitals in California to offer minimally invasive bladder reconstruction for a more complete recovery with fewer complications after bladder cancer.

Learn about Surgical, Non-Surgical and Reconstructive Options at Hoag

Precision Medicine for the Highest Degree of Accuracy

Your treatment needs to be right. That’s why Hoag developed the Precision Medicine program, combining genomics and genetics to develop targeted therapies – resulting in a pinpoint level of accuracy each and every time.

Learn more about Precision Medicine at Hoag

Leading-Edge Diagnostics

Providing the most advanced form of diagnostics, Hoag offers Blue Light Cystoscopy with Cysview® (BLCC), or fluorescence cystoscopy, an advanced technology used to detect and diagnose bladder tumors more accurately. This advanced imaging technique uses a light-activated drug causing cancer cells to glow when a blue light is directed at them, making tumors easier for oncologists to detect.

Learn more about Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

A Network of Direct Support

Upon diagnosis, our dedicated clinical nurse navigator will support you with one-on-one education and be accessible to you throughout the entire process. You will be paired with an alumni patient mentor who has been through the program as an added resource. In addition, Hoag is one of few programs in the state of California to provide a support group specifically for bladder cancer patients and an ostomy support group.

Learn more about Cancer Support Services

Leading the Charge with Groundbreaking Research

Hoag physicians are currently involved in a clinical trial studying the effects of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) treatment, a groundbreaking immunotherapy drug delivered directly to the bladder while avoiding surrounding tissue. With leading edge research and access to clinical trials, you can rest assured that you have every advantage at Hoag to conquer cancer, heal and move forward with your life.

Learn more about Clinical Research at Hoag

You are not alone.

Hoag is the top choice for cancer care in Orange County, with cancer survival rates that continually exceed national averages. Our dedicated, world-class teams are wholly focused on helping you survive cancer, heal and move forward with your life.



Diagnosing Bladder Cancer

How is Bladder Cancer Diagnosed 

If you are experiencing any symptoms that might suggest bladder cancer, your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms, likely followed by a thorough physical exam and bloodwork. Depending on the outcome of those tests, your doctor may refer you to a urologic specialist for other tests that may include:

  • Blue Light/Fluorescence Cystoscopy – an enhanced form of cystoscopy using a light-activated drug that allows cancer cells to glow when a blue light is directed at them.
  • Cystoscopy – doctor inserts a small, flexible camera equipped with a lens and light source through your urethra to examine the inside of your bladder to look for bladder tumors.
  • Surgical biopsy – a tissue sample is taken from the tumor for testing
  • Urine cytology – a urine sample is examined under high magnification to look for cancer cells.
  • Imaging tests – may include CT, PET or MRI scans.

Treatment Options for Bladder Cancer

Treatment options for bladder cancer depend on many factors, including how advanced the cancer is when detected, your age and any other health issues you may have.

Advanced Surgical Treatments at Hoag

Hoag Family Cancer Institute’s bladder cancer team includes experienced, fellowship-trained urologic surgical oncologists who utilize the latest techniques in surgical management of bladder cancer.

Advanced surgical approaches for bladder cancer include:

  • Minimally invasive laparoscopic robotic surgery using a DaVinci Robotics platform. Learn more about the benefits of Hoag’s DaVinci robotics program.
  • Open or traditional surgery

Additional surgical procedures include:

  • Local excision
  • Transurethral resection (TUR) with fulguration
  • Segmental or partial cystectomy
  • Radical cystectomy
  • Urinary diversion:
    • Ileal Conduit – Using an external pouch to collect urine through an abdominal opening called a stoma.
    • Indiana Pouch (also known as continent urinary reservoir, continent cutaneous pouch or continent cutaneous diversion) – Creation of an internal reservoir to collect urine which is then emptied using a catheter inserted through a stoma to drain urine from the neobladder.
    • Ileal Neobladder – Creation of an internal pouch which is connected to the urethra, allowing patients to pass urine through their urethra once urinary control is regained. Patients may have to self-catheterize to drain urine while regaining urinary control.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options

As a full-service cancer center, Hoag offers both inpatient and outpatient options to provide the full spectrum of therapeutic care and support. All outpatient services are located right here in Orange County.

Our non-surgical treatment options for bladder cancer include:

  • Immunotherapy (including Cell Therapy)
    • Intravesical immunotherapy introduced directly into the bladder
    • Intravesical bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) and other anti-cancer drug therapies
    • Systemic immunotherapy administered through a vein directly into blood stream
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy (sometimes including cisplatin)
    • Intravesical chemotherapy with mitomycin or gemcitabine introduced directly into the bladder
    • Systemic chemotherapy administered through a vein directly into blood stream

Research & Clinical Trials for Bladder Cancer

Hoag is committed to leading the way in state-of-the-art technologies and advanced treatment options. Part of this commitment includes clinical research with the goal of helping patients live longer, healthier lives. Through carefully planned clinical trials, researchers evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent diseases or conditions. Treatments studied in clinical trials might be new drugs or new combinations of drugs, new surgical procedures or devices, or new ways to use existing treatments.

Find clinical trials for bladder cancer

Do I have bladder cancer?

What is bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer is cancer that occurs in the bladder, the muscular organ that stores urine. The most common type of bladder cancer is urothelial carcinoma, which is a cancer that develops in the cells that line the inside of the bladder. Read more about urothelial carcinoma here. 

Rarer types of bladder cancer include: 

  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Small-cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Sarcoma

What are the symptoms of bladder cancer?

The symptoms of bladder cancer can be different for every patient, but the most common symptoms include: 

  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • The frequent urge to urinate
  • Feeling like you need to urinate but being unable to
  • Pain in the lower back

What are the risk factors for bladder cancer?

There are a number of factors that are believed to increase your risk of developing bladder cancers. These include: 

  • Smoking
  • A family history of bladder cancers
    • Hoag Family Cancer Institute offers a Hereditary Cancer Program to assess a person’s family history and any associated risk for cancer. 
  • Being older, as most patients with bladder cancer are older than age 55
  • Being a man, because bladder cancer happens more often in men than women
  • On the job exposure to certain chemicals, including arsenic and certain chemicals used in making leather, rubber, dyes and paint. 
  • Previous cancer treatments that included radiation to the pelvis or the drug cyclophosphamide.

How can I reduce my risk of developing bladder cancer? 

Ways to reduce your risk of developing bladder cancer may include:

  • Eat a diet high in antioxidants
  • Use proper protective equipment, including a correctly-rated respirator and gloves, when using chemicals that might increase your risk of bladder cancer
  • Don’t smoke