Transurethral resection for bladder cancer

Also known as: TUR, TURBT, transurethral resection for bladder tumor

Surgery overview
Transurethral resection (TUR) of the bladder is a surgical procedure that is used both to diagnose bladder cancer and to remove cancerous tissue from the bladder. This procedure is also called a TURBT (transurethral resection for bladder tumor).

During TUR surgery, a cystoscope is passed into the bladder through the urethra. A tool called a resectoscope is used to remove the cancer for biopsy and to burn away any remaining cancer cells.

Why it is done
TUR can be used to diagnose, stage, and treat bladder cancer.

  • Diagnosis. TUR is used to examine the inside of the bladder to see whether there are cancer cells in the bladder.
  • Staging. TUR can determine whether cancers are growing into the bladder wall.
  • Treatment. Small tumors can be removed from inside the bladder during TUR.

What to expect
TUR is often done in a hospital setting. General anesthesia or spinal anesthesia is usually used. You may need to stay in the hospital 1 to 4 days.

Following surgery, a catheter may be placed in the urethra to help stop bleeding and to prevent blockage of the urethra. When the bleeding has stopped, the catheter is removed.

You may feel the need to urinate frequently for a while after the surgery, but this should improve over time. You may have blood in your urine for up to 2 to 3 weeks following surgery.

You may be instructed to avoid strenuous activity for about 3 weeks following TUR.

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

About 70% of people with early-stage and low-grade superficial bladder cancer can be effectively treated with a TUR.

Risks

  • The risks of TUR include:
  • Bleeding.
  • Bladder infection (cystitis).
  • Perforation of the wall of the bladder.
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria).
  • Blockage of the urethra by blood clots in the bladder.

What to think about
Treatment with TUR may be followed by chemotherapy or biological therapy. If superficial bladder cancer recurs, follow-up TURs may be done regularly.

About 30% of people with early-stage and high-grade superficial bladder cancer are treated with TUR, but additional chemotherapy or biological therapy may be recommended.

Learn more
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