If cancer continues to grow during treatment (progresses) or comes back (recurs), your treatment options will depend on where and how much the cancer has spread, what treatments you have already had, and on your health and desire for more treatment. It’s important that you understand the goal of any further treatment – if it’s to try to cure the cancer, to slow its growth, or to help relieve symptoms – as well as the likelihood of benefits and risks.
For example, non-invasive bladder cancer often comes back in the bladder. The new cancer may be found either in the same site as the original cancer or at other sites in the bladder. These tumors are often treated the same way as the first tumor. But if the tumor keeps coming back, the patient may need a cystectomy (removal of the bladder) at some point.
Cancers that recur in distant parts of the body can be harder to remove with surgery and might require other treatments, such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or radiation therapy. For more on dealing with a recurrence, see the website section Understanding Recurrence.
At some point, it may become clear that standard treatments are no longer controlling the cancer. If you want to continue getting treatment, you might think about taking part in a clinical trial of newer bladder cancer treatments. While these are not always the best option for every person, they may benefit you as well as future patients.