Treating Bladder Cancer: Transurethral Resection (TUR)

3-83252	Treating Bladder Cancer: TUR (Transurethral Resection)	Medical illustration	Replace with updated medical art				Front view cross section of bladder showing cystoscope inserted through ureter.Cystoscopy is a way for your healthcare provider to look into your bladder. A small telescope with a camera attached is passed through the urethra and into the bladder. This tube is called a cystoscope. Problems of the urinary tract can be diagnosed and sometimes treated with cystoscopy. If cancer is found and it is in an early stage (superficial) and is growing slowly (low grade), it may be removed during this procedure. Removal of a tumor during cystoscopy is known as transurethral resection (TUR) or transurethral bladder resection (TURBT). Most of the time, tissue removed during TUR can be studied to see what it is and if more treatment is needed.

Removing a tumor

TUR is most often done in a hospital as an outpatient procedure. If the tumor is large, you may stay overnight. You will be given medicine so you don’t feel pain during the procedure. This is called anesthesia. If you have regional anesthesia, just the lower part of your body is numbed. You may also be drowsy. If you have general anesthesia, you will be in a state like deep sleep throughout the procedure.

During the procedure

A cystoscope is passed through your urethra and into your bladder. The bladder is examined through the scope. If tumors are found, they are removed if possible. A cutting tool is put through the scope to do this. A biopsy (sample) of cells from the tumor and normal-looking tissue may be taken. These samples are looked at under a microscope. This is done to look for cancer and, if it’s found, to see how deeply it has grown into the bladder wall. In some cases, a laser is then used to burn any remaining tumor away.

After the procedure

Here is what to expect after TUR: 

  • After the procedure, a catheter (thin, flexible tube) may be placed in your bladder. This drains the bladder of urine while you heal. The tube may stay in place for a few days.

  • Bladder tumors can come back (recur) after treatment. To be sure that all cancer cells are destroyed, TUR may be followed by other types of treatment, such as intravesical therapy. This uses special medicines placed in the bladder to destroy cancer cells.

Risks and possible complications of TUR

All procedures have risks. Risks of TUR include:

  • Blood or even blood clots in the urine

  • Pain when passing urine

  • Urinary frequency (having to go more often than usual)

Make sure you know what to watch for and when to call your healthcare provider. Know how to reach your healthcare provider after office hours and on weekends.


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