Transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) is a treatment for high risk and low risk early bladder cancer. It is used to find out if someone has bladder cancer, and whether the cancer has invaded the muscle layer of the bladder wall. Resection, also called “excision”, simply means surgery to remove tissue (a tumor), or part, or all of a damaged organ. During a resection, the doctor will usually take out the tumor and some of the healthy tissue around it. The tissue around the tumor is called the margin. TURBT is usually done under general anesthesia using a rigid cystoscope. The procedure typically takes 15–40 minutes and does not involve any cuts to the outside of the body. Because the procedure goes through the urethra, no incisions are necessary.
Types of Bladder Cancer Tumors
There are three types of bladder cancer tumors:
- Papillary tumors – these tumors stick out from the bladder lining on a stalk. They tend to grow away from the bladder wall and into the bladder cavity, instead of deeper into the layers of the bladder wall.
- Sessile tumors – these tumors lie flat against the bladder lining and are much more likely than papillary tumors to grow deeper and invade into the layers of the bladder wall.
- Carcinoma in situ (CIS) – this is a cancerous patch of bladder lining, often referred to as a “flat tumor.” It is a type of nonmuscle-invasive bladder cancer that is of higher grade and increases the risk of recurrence and progression.
More than one type of tumor can be present at the same time and each type of tumor can be present in one or more areas of the bladder.
What Happens after Transurethral Resection of a Bladder Tumor (TURBT)?
You might have to stay in the hospital overnight. After the surgery, tumor specimens will be sent to a pathologist to determine the stage and grade of your bladder cancer. These findings, along with results from imaging such as CT scans, will help your medical team determine the type and duration of further treatment if necessary.
Do Bladder Tumors Come Back?
Most bladder cancers are diagnosed at an early stage, when the cancer is highly treatable. But even early-stage bladder cancers often come back after successful treatment. Low-grade bladder cancers recur frequently. Some patients experience multiple recurrences and, as a result, undergo repeated TURBT procedures and office procedures. If you have TURBT surgery to remove the cancer from your bladder lining, you may have a second TURBT procedure within 6 weeks of the first to determine if all of the tumor has been removed.