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Learning About Transurethral Resection for Bladder Cancer

Cystoscope placement through urethra into bladder

What is transurethral resection (TUR) for bladder cancer?

Transurethral resection (TUR) of the bladder is a surgery that removes cancerous tissue. It does not remove the bladder.

TUR is the most common and effective treatment for early-stage bladder cancer. It may also work well for more advanced cancer if all the cancer can be removed and biopsies show that no cancer cells remain.

How is TUR done?

Your doctor will give you medicine to make you sleep or feel relaxed. You will not feel pain.

The doctor will put a thin, lighted tool called a cystoscope, or scope, into your urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. Then the doctor will gently thread the scope into your bladder. Your bladder will then be filled with fluid. This stretches the bladder so that your doctor can clearly see the inside of your bladder. Your doctor will use small surgical tools through the scope to remove and/or burn away any cancer cells.

What can you expect after TUR?

Your doctor may leave a small tube called a catheter in the urethra to help prevent blockage of the urethra. When the bleeding from surgery has stopped, the tube is removed. You may need to stay in the hospital for 1 to 4 days. You may still have the catheter when you go home.

You may feel the need to urinate often for a while after the surgery. But this should improve with time. It may burn when you urinate. Drink lots of fluids to help with the burning. Your urine also may look pink for up to 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. This is because there may be blood in it.

You may have to avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for about 3 weeks after TUR.

Your doctor may suggest that you have chemotherapy or biological therapy after the procedure.

Bladder cancer can come back. You will need regular examinations for the rest of your life to check for the cancer. You may need the surgery again.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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