Bladder Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Overview

Bladder cancer occurs when there are cancerous cells growing on the inner linings of the bladder wall. It is one of the most common cancers and can affect both males and females. Usually, bladder cancer begins in the urothelial cells inside of the bladder. The most typical symptoms of bladder cancer are related to urination abnormalities, such as blood in the urine.

In the United States, bladder cancer affects around 68,000 adults each year. On average, men are more likely to develop the condition than women. Elderly people are usually at higher risk. Around 90% of cases occur in people over age 55.

Also, there is a noticeable race difference. White people have a higher possibility of getting the disease than African Americans or Hispanics. Luckily, as high as 70% of patients are diagnosed with early-stage bladder cancer, which can be effectively treated.

But it is possible for the cancer to recur. That’s why patients with bladder cancer usually need to receive follow-up tests for a long time after the treatment.

Causes and Risk Factors

Bladder cancer occurs because of the abnormal growth of the urothelial cells in the bladder. When there appear mutations, the urothelial cells start to multiply in an uncontrollable manner. Eventually, these cells form a tumor.

According to current studies and researches, experts have also found some dominant factors that may increase the risk of developing bladder cancer:

  • Male gender

Men are three times more likely to develop bladder cancer than females.

  • Smoking

As of today, smoking is the greatest risk factor identified for people to get bladder cancer. It is estimated that people who smoke are four times more likely to get the disease than people who do not. Smoking allows harmful cigarette chemicals to enter the bloodstream in the lungs and get down to the bladder in the end. An accumulation of harmful chemicals in the bladder will eventually lead to bladder cancer.

  • Exposure to harmful chemicals

Certain occupations are at high risk of getting bladder cancer because their jobs involve exposure to chemicals that are likely to cause cancer. These occupations may include metal workers, hairdressers, and machinists.

  • Radiation exposure

Having previous radiation exposure such as receiving cancer radiation treatment can increase the risk of developing bladder cancer as well.

  • Infections

Chronic irritation of the linings of the bladder and parasitic infections are both potential causes of bladder cancer.

Symptoms

Early-stage bladder cancer may produce no symptoms. But as the condition progresses, it may show some signs and symptoms, especially symptoms associated with urination. They may include the following:

  • Blood in the urine, which is also known as hematuria
  • Frequent and/or painful urination
  • Pelvic pain
  • Inability to urinate
  • Back pain
  • An urge to urinate when the bladder is not full

It is worth noting that blood in the urine, or hematuria can be divided into two types: gross hematuria and microscopic hematuria. Gross hematuria refers to blood in the urine that can be seen by the naked eye while microscopic hematuria means the blood in the urine can only be detected through testing.

If you have the above-mentioned symptoms, you should go to the hospital and get a definite diagnosis.

Diagnosis

To diagnose bladder cancer can take a long time because more than one test is required. The doctor may perform the following tests to confirm a diagnosis:

  • Cystoscopy
  • A biopsy
  • Urine cytology
  • CT urogram
  • Retrograde pyelogram

With the above test results, the doctor can confirm whether a person has bladder cancer or not and determine how severe the cancer is.

Treatment

Right now, various treatment methods are available to treat bladder cancer. The doctor will tailor the treatment plan for each and every patient so as to maximize the treatment effects.

Surgery

According to different situations, the doctor may take different surgical approaches, such as:

  • Transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT)
  • Cystectomy
  • Neobladder reconstruction
  • Ileal conduit
  • Continent urinary reservoir

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is often given for some patients before the surgery so as to increase the possibility of curing the cancer. After the surgery, patients may also need to receive chemotherapy so as to kill the remaining cancerous cells.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy also aims at destroying cancer cells. It is mainly used for patients when surgery isn’t an option.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy tends to trigger the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells in the bladder.

Above all, the doctor will choose the best treatment according to the patient’s reality. Since there’s a possibility that bladder cancer may recur, people with the disease should keep close touch with the doctor so as to take timely response if necessary.

Keywords: bladder cancer.

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Are There Any Alternative Bladder Cancer Treatments?

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.