Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Prostate, Bladder & Kidney Cancers


Treatment for prostate, bladder, and kidney cancers is based on several factors including a patient’s overall health, medical history, and other individual factors. For more detailed treatment information, click on one of the links below.

Prostate Cancer

Treatment for prostate cancer is based on several factors including a patient’s overall health and medical history, the extent of the disease, and other individual factors. Treatment may include watchful waiting, surgery, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, or some combination of therapies.

Watchful waiting may be suggested for some men who have prostate cancer that is found at an early stage and appears to be slow growing. Also, watchful waiting may be advised for older men or men with other serious medical problems.


Surgery to remove the entire prostate is a common treatment for early stage prostate cancer. In a total prostatectomy, the doctor removes the entire prostate, and when necessary, nearby lymph nodes through a small incision in the lower abdomen. In some cases, the doctor can use a technique known as “nerve-sparing surgery,” that may save the nerves that control erection.

Another technique, laparoscopic prostatectomy, involves the use of smaller incisions and specialized instruments to remove the prostate. Robotic technology further enhances the advantages of laparoscopic surgery. The da Vinci™ Surgical System translates the doctor’s hand, wrist, and finger movements into corresponding micro-movements of instrument tips positioned inside the patient. The doctor guides the procedure by use of instrument controls at a console outside the patient’s body.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and to shrink tumors. Radiation therapy may be delivered externally through a machine or internally through tiny radioactive seeds placed inside or near the tumor. It may be used instead of surgery, or after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that may remain in the area. Radiation therapy also may be given to relive pain or other problems.

Sylvester has a team of specialized physicians that have published many papers about prostate cancer and are known world-wide as experts in prostate cancer and other genitourinary malignancies. The approach they currently use builds on decades of experience, combining the most advanced technologies to improve the precision of radiation therapy for patients with prostate cancer. And increasing the precision allows us to safely deliver the highest possible doses of radiation to the cancer cells with less damage to surrounding tissue. Learn more about the latest technology, including Calypso™ and RapidArc™, available in Radiation Oncology at Sylvester.

Hormonal Therapy

Hormonal therapy keeps cancer cells from getting the male hormones they need to grow. Hormonal therapy may involve surgery, drugs, or other substances. It is generally used to treat cancer that has spread.


Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs to treat cancerous cells. In most cases, chemotherapy works by interfering with the cancer cell’s ability to grow or reproduce. Often chemotherapy is not the primary therapy for men with prostate cancer, but may be used when prostate cancer has spread outside of the prostate gland or in combination with other therapies. According to the American Cancer Society, chemotherapy is not an effective treatment against early prostate cancer. And although it may slow tumor growth and reduce pain, it also has had limited success for the treatment of advanced prostate disease.

Bladder Cancer

Treatment for bladder cancer is based on several factors including a patient’s overall health and medical history and other individual factors. The choice of treatment depends on the stage of the cancer—whether it is confined to the bladder or has spread to other parts of body. Generally, treatment for patients with cancer of the bladder includes surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and/or biological therapy.

About 70 percent to 80 percent of individuals with bladder cancer have superficial tumors, which means that the tumors are non-invasive and have not spread beyond the bladder wall. Treatment for these tumors is often very effective with an excellent prognosis. About 25 percent of bladder cancers invade deep into the bladder wall and muscle. These cancers carry a greater risk for spread into other tissues.


There are several surgical procedures used to treat bladder cancers. Transurethral resection involves surgically removing or burning away cancer cells with an electric current. Cystectomy is surgery to remove part of, or the entire bladder. A segmental cystectomy removes only a small portion of the bladder. In a radical cystectomy, the bladder, lymph nodes near the bladder and any nearby organs that contain cancer cells are removed.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill or shrink cancer cells. Internal or external radiation, or both, may be used to treat bladder cancer. With internal radiation, an implant is placed into the bladder for a direct effect on cancer cells. External radiation uses a machine to direct rays at a broader area from outside the body.


Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be given internally by placing the drugs directly in the bladder, or systemically, by mouth or directly into the bloodstream to reach cancer cells that may have spread beyond the bladder to affect cancer cells throughout the body.
Biological Therapy

Biological therapy uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. In one form of this therapy, a solution is placed in the bladder, where it triggers the immune system to kill the cancer cells.

There is an increased chance for recurrence of bladder cancer for some individuals. About 75 percent of superficial bladder cancers recur within a few years. However, in most cases, the extent of the reoccurring cancer is no more severe than the previous condition.

Kidney Cancer

Specific treatment for kidney cancer is based on several factors including a patient’s overall health and medical history, the extent of the disease, and other individual factors. Generally, kidney cancer is treated with surgery, radiation therapy, biological therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and/or arterial embolization.


Surgery to remove the kidney is called a nephrectomy and is the most common treatment for kidney cancer. In a radical nephrectomy, the whole kidney is removed along with the adrenal gland, tissue around the kidney, and, sometimes, lymph nodes in the area. In a simple nephrectomy, only the kidney is removed. A partial nephrectomy removes only the part of the kidney that contains the tumor.

The remaining kidney is generally able to perform the work of both kidneys.

External Radiation Therapy

External radiation therapy precisely sends high levels of radiation directly to the cancer cells using a machine directed at the body. Radiation treatments are painless and usually last only a few minutes. External radiation may also be used to relieve pain when kidney cancer has spread to the bone.

Biological Therapy

Biological therapy, also called immunotherapy, fights cancer by using material made by the body, or in a laboratory, to restore the body’s natural defense against disease. Interferon and Interleukin are two biological drugs used to treat renal cell cancer.


Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs to treat cancerous cells. In most cases, chemotherapy works by interfering with the cancer cell’s ability to grow or reproduce. These drugs may be given into a vein or by mouth, in tablet form.
Hormone therapy helps to adjust or block other natural hormones produced by the body. This type of therapy is used in a small number of patients with advanced kidney cancer.

Arterial Embolization

Arterial embolization is a procedure in which small pieces of a special gelatin sponge, or other material, are injected through a catheter to clog the main renal blood vessel. This procedure shrinks the tumor by depriving it of the oxygen-carrying blood and other substances it needs to grow. It may also be used before an operation to make surgery easier, or to provide relief from pain when removal of the tumor is not possible.

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