Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer, also known as carcinoma of the bladder or bladder tumour is the most common type of cancer that occurs in the urinary tract. Men are three times as likely to be affected as women.

A distinction is made between two different types of bladder cancers: non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer and muscle-invasive bladder cancer. Non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer only occurs on the inside the lining of the bladder, whereas the tumours in muscle-invasive bladder cancer have spread beyond the lining into the surrounding bladder muscle. Treatment is selected depending on how deep the tumour has penetrated the muscle.

The most important factor for the risk of developing bladder cancer is active and passive smoking. Not consuming nicotine is thus the best preventive measure. However, there are certain other factors which may increase the risk of contracting bladder cancer. These include:
- Certain chemical substances
- Pain reliever abuse
- Chronic bladder infections
- Infections with schistosoma parasites
- Cytostatic drugs based on cyclophosphamide for the treatment of ovarian and breast cancer


As is the case with most malignant tumours, bladder cancer does not cause any specific symptoms. In the early stages, any symptoms it does cause tend to be very general. Women initially suspect a urinary tract infection, whereas men tend to consider the symptoms as problems with the prostrate.

There are initial warning signs for bladder cancer such as reddish or brown discolouration of the urine caused by small amounts of blood, but this can also be a symptom of many kidney or urinary tract disorders.

The first initial warning signs of bladder cancer also include:
- Problems with emptying the bladder: Patients feel the need to urinate more frequently but pass less water
- Painless bleeding from the bladder
- Pain while passing water (occurs only rarely)

More noticeable symptoms are possible if the bladder cancer is in an advanced stage, for example:

- Enlarged lymph nodes if the cancer has metastasised
- Pain in the area around the kidneys
- Lower back pain
- Stasis and swelling caused by the tumour pressing against veins or lymph channels
- Painful bones



The DZI offers treatment tailored to patients’ individual needs with all modern immunotherapy approaches, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Patients’ treatment is administered in close collaboration with specialists from various disciplines within the Universitätsklinikum Erlangen such as Surgery, Oncology, the Department of Urology and Paediatric Urology, and Psychology. The type of treatment depends above all on whether the tumour is muscle-invasive or non-muscle-invasive and the stage of the bladder carcinoma. The stage of the disease is determined by the location and size of the tumour, how fast it is growing, the level of malignancy and how far it has spread.

In advanced stages, systemic immunotherapy treatment with checkpoint inhibitors is an important addition to the range of treatment available. It represents the new standard in many cases and has a very high likelihood of stabilising the cancer.

Immunotherapy with checkpoint inhibitors uses the body’s own immune mechanisms. The aim is to enable the body’s immune cells to detect and eliminate damaging cancer cells. Various drugs are used and therapy is tailored to each individual patient in interdisciplinary collaboration between all specialists involved.

In addition, patients have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. The results of these clinical trials are used to carry out research into new approaches for treatment and further develop existing treatments.  Research into molecular changes in bladder cancer tumours also provides new approaches for treatment. This was demonstrated in the very promising results of the latest trials in which patients from Erlangen also took part.


Do you have any questions on the treatment of bladder cancer? Please feel free to get in touch with us by phone, e-mail or via our contact form.