What if cancer comes back?

It’s not uncommon for bladder cancer to come back in the lining of the bladder. If this happens, it can usually be removed with an operation. Some people may be given chemotherapy or BCG into the bladder. Non-invasive bladder cancer that comes back in the bladder can usually be cured or controlled for a long time.

In some people, the cancer may start to grow into the muscle layer of the bladder (invasive bladder cancer). If this happens, the urologist may recommend an operation to remove the bladder (cystectomy).They may also advise a cystectomy if treatment with BCG isn’t working or if the cancer keeps coming back. If you have high-risk non-invasive bladder cancer, the operation might be suggested instead of BCG treatment. Before advising this, your urologist will consider the different treatments available to let you keep your bladder.

The aim of a cystectomy is to treat the cancer before it spreads into the muscle layer, and possibly to other parts of the body (secondary or metastatic bladder cancer). When bladder cancer has spread to other parts of the body, it can no longer be cured.

It can be hard to accept advice to have your bladder removed to treat non-invasive cancer. With support from family, friends, health professionals and support organisations, people usually manage to cope well with a cystectomy.

You can read more about cystectomy in our section about invasive and advanced bladder cancer.

Back to Care after treatment


You will have regular checks after your treatment has finished. If you have any new symptoms, let your doctor know.