Bladder Cancer
​Bladder cancer is usually very curable if it is diagnosed while the cancer is contained in the bladder. Almost 75% of bladder cancers are diagnosed at the early, most treatable stage of the illness.

Bladder cancer services are provided through the Mass General Cancer Center at Emerson Hospital - Bethke, which combines expert diagnostic and cancer specialists and state-of-the-art technology in a convenient, comfortable setting. The Cancer Center provides the latest, highest-quality treatment close to home and family.

About the Cancer Center

The Mass General Cancer Center was created to bring outstanding cancer specialists and facilities to the communities served by Emerson Hospital. The Center provides advanced, quality treatment and technology with compassion and care. They are committed to answer questions and discuss treatment options openly and honestly; and to provide support services. Treatment is based on a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care that emphasizes the coordination of many disciplines and services to form an organized team of professionals and support staff willing to go the distance for each individual patient and family.


Bladder cancer is diagnosed with a physical exam, a test of the urine to detect blood or abnormal cells and a cystoscopy, a procedure that uses a small, thin scope to look into the bladder and remove tissues for biopsy.

Treatment at the Cancer Center: Complete, convenient and personalized

Emerson Hospital’s philosophy of care is to build a multidisciplinary team around the patient—one that includes the primary care physician, diagnostic specialists, cancer specialists and oncology certified nursing staff. Care is well coordinated among team members, who meet throughout the week to discuss diagnosis and treatment planning for specific patients. The extended team at Emerson includes the full spectrum of support services, including social workers, dietitians, pain management specialists and complementary therapy practitioners.

Treatment for bladder cancer usually involves some combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and biological therapy. Emerson’s multidisciplinary program offers the most advanced medical, surgical and radiation treatments available.


Surgeons at the Cancer Center have extensive experience treating bladder cancers and perform the most advanced surgical treatments for bladder cancer:

Small tumors near the surface of the bladder may be cauterized during a cystoscopy
Transurethral resection (TUR) is used to remove large early-stage tumors
Cystectomy, or surgical removal of the bladder, is done for the most advanced stages of cancer that are confined to the bladder, or for multiple bladder tumors

Medical Oncology

Emerson’s experienced medical oncologists specialize in the medical treatment of bladder cancer. They help guide the diagnosis, treatment plan and overall care for patients. Medical oncologists prescribe chemotherapy for patients who require it. For early-stage bladder cancer, medicines may be delivered directly into the bladder using a catheter. For more advanced cancers, chemotherapy may be given orally or intravenously. The medical oncologists have close working relationships with colleagues at prominent Boston cancer programs. Patients have access to the latest treatments available through cancer clinical trials.


Surgeons work closely with Emerson’s expert anesthesiologists, who provide clinical anesthesia services for patients. Available at the hospital 24 hours a day, anesthesiologists also consult on pain management for those with chronic pain.

Chemotherapy and Infusion Services

Chemotherapy is an important part of many cancer treatment plans. Advances in chemotherapy treatment are making this therapy more precise and targeted. The Cancer Center’s chemotherapy infusion suite offers the most advanced therapy in a new, state-of-the-art facility staffed by medical oncologists and specially trained nurses. Priorities are patient safety, comfort and privacy. Family members or friends are welcome to accompany patients during treatment.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is an invaluable cancer-fighting therapy and is usually given once a day over many weeks, so convenience and ease-of-access to the treatment facility is critical. The Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Radiation Oncology at Emerson Hospital provides all of this. The joint program includes the most up-to-date and highly accurate treatment and planning technologies available at the major downtown hospitals in one convenient location—at the Cancer Center in Concord, Mass. Recent advances in radiation treatment which are available to Emerson patients include:
  • 3-D Conformal Radiation Therapy; CT-scan guided treatment planning, which enables the physicians to pinpoint the precise tumor location using an on-site CT scan.
  • Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) so the physicians and physicists can "sculpt" radiation beams around the tumor— thus avoiding unnecessary radiation to normal tissues and structures.
  • Image-Guided Radiation Therapy: Imaging tools within the Linear Accelerator (treatment machine) that enable precise re-positioning of the patient from one treatment session to the next.

Immune Therapy

Immunotherapy prompts the body’s immune system to destroy bladder cancer cells. Immunotherapy is often used for early-stage bladder cancer and may be used after transurethral resection (TUR) to prevent cancer recurrence.


Today, cancer treatment is tailored to each patient’s tumor. Pathologists play an important role in diagnosing cancer and identifying attributes about each tumor that help oncologists design the most effective treatment plan. Emerson’s pathologists have access to the most cutting-edge molecular tests available to aid in accurate diagnosis.

Clinical Trials

Over the past 15 years, clinical trials have been an important part of the comprehensive cancer program at the Cancer Center. The decision to take part in a clinical trial is very personal. You should talk to your physician and consider the risks and benefits of a study before agreeing to participate.

Integrative Therapies

Integrative therapies, also known as complementary therapies, can be very effective in addressing nausea, pain and fatigue and in bolstering the immune system. Emerson patients who are interested in combining acupuncture, yoga, Reiki, herbs or other integrative therapies with their cancer treatment are encouraged to speak with their physician, who can make a referral, including to a certified, on-site acupuncturist.

Support Services and Groups

The Center for Sports Rehabilitation and Specialty Services helps patients with physical, occupational and speech therapy needs during and after treatment. Referrals to an enterostomal nurse specialists are made as needed. Emerson’s Home Care department has specialists who assist with support services that may be needed in the home, and care coordination if a Hospice referral is desired. Emerson’s Social Work department provide specialists who help to coordinate and integrate support services at any time from initial diagnosis, through treatment and after. Practitioners from all of the support services work collaboratively with our medical oncology teams to provide the best of care. The Cancer Center is dedicated to its patients and continues to provide care and support after completion of active treatment through survivorship programs.

Emerson also offers a wide range of community health and wellness programs and classes that can help participants learn about cancer prevention and early diagnosis strategies or help those with cancer, their caregivers or family manage the stress associated with the illness. A variety of stress reduction programs use approaches including mindfulness training, yoga and meditation, tai chi, Reiki and Qigong. Another program teaches those who have completed cancer treatment nutrition strategies for preventing cancer recurrence. 

Emerson’s Lund Community Health Library offers information that can help individuals understand and cope with the diagnosis of a medical condition and learn about the latest treatment methods.


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