TURBT – Transurethral resection of a bladder tumor

This page will provide you with information about TURBT. For further details, please speak to your consultant.

What is a bladder tumour?

This is a cancerous growth that develops in the bladder lining. Some of the symptoms associated with these growths are listed below:

1) They can bleed, resulting in your urine containing blood (haematuria)

2) A burning sensation when passing urine

3) Feeling the need to pass urine more frequently

4) Blood clots forming, so your bladder is unable to empty efficiently

Types of bladder tumour

  • Invasive— cancerous growths that grow into and through the wall of the bladder. The cancer can also spread throughout this body to other areas.
  • Non-invasive— growths that stay within the bladder lining. It is the most common type of bladder cancer, yet there is also a risk of the development of an invasive tumour.

Once the tissue has been removed by the surgeon during the procedure, it will be examined under a microscope. This will help to determine the type of tumour that you have. The surgeon can also perform a biopsy (the removal of small pieces of tissue) on the parts of your bladder that do not seem to be affected. From these samples they can determine if the cells that make up the bladder lining are becoming unstable, and therefore have an increased likelihood of forming tumours (carcinoma in situ). There is a chance you may also have more than one tumour.

What are the benefits of surgery?

After the surgical procedure the symptoms should get better. In the case of a non-invasive bladder tumour, resecting should completely remove it and there will be a reduced risk of the development of an invasive cancer. In the case of an invasive cancer, a TURBT will not get rid of the cancer entirely. The surgeon will recommend the best type of treatment for your case, after examining the tissue under a microscope.

What are the alternatives to surgery?

Resection of the tumour is the only dependable way to determine the type of tumour you have. If you choose not to have the operation a superficial tumour will run the risk of turning into a cancerous one. With a cancerous tumour, there is a risk that it will grow deeper into the tissue of the bladder and the cancer might then spread to other areas of the body.

What will happen during the operation?

During the surgery, a resectoscope (a small operating telescope) is passed into the bladder through the tube that transports the urine from the bladder (urethra). The resectoscope aids with tumour identification and then helps in resecting any tumours within the bladder.

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The resectoscope seals the raw areas with an electric current (called cauterisation). The surgeon also may use the resectosope in order to carry out biopsies to determine if you have carcinoma in situ. Once the procedure is complete, the surgeon removes the resectoscope and will often place a catheter (tube) into the bladder. The benefits of doing this are that it enables you to pass urine easily, and that the bladder can be washed out with fluid in order to prevent blood clots.

Even if you do not have an invasive cancer, your surgeon could advise that you are given an intravesical chemotherapy dose. This will go straight into the bladder via the catheter. Given this way, the chemotherapy can reduce the risk of any new growths that might develop in the bladder lining.

Risks and complications

Any risks or complications will be discussed in advance of your treatment with your expert consultant.


Your consultant will discuss the results from your operation and treatment options with you. Treatment will differ based on whether your results indicate you have an invasive tumour, non-invasive tumour or carcinoma in situ.


A TURBT is a safe and effective way to diagnose the type of bladder tumour present.


EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this page is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.