What is Bladder Cancer?
Bladder cancer is the second most common type of cancer, after prostate cancer, which develops in the urothelial cells of the bladder, which is the muscular organ in the lower portion of your abdomen that stores the urine. Bladder cancer usually affects elderly men.
Bladder Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Usually, bladder cancer doesn’t cause any specific signs or symptoms until advanced stages of the disease. However, some patients might experience the following:
- Hematuria (presence of blood in urine).
- Painful urination.
- Low back and pelvic pain.
- Increase urination frequency.
Bladder Cancer Common Causes
Bladder cancer develops after some cells in the urothelial tissue start growing abnormally after some cell’s mutations, which eventually form a tumor.
There are some well-known risk factors related to this condition which include:
- Men have a higher risk
- Ethnicity – White people have a higher risk
- Some chemical exposure like in the manufacture of dyes, rubber, leather, textiles and paint products
- Radiation exposure
- Parasitic infection
- Chronic irritation or inflammation in the bladder tissue
Bladder Cancer Diagnosis
In case you show any of the above signs or symptoms and have some of the risk factors related to bladder cancer, your doctor might perform some of the following tests and procedure to properly diagnose bladder cancer:
- Cystoscopy. This involves using a small, narrow tube called a cystoscope through your urethra that allows your doctor to examine the inner structures of your urinary tract.
- Bladder biopsy.
- Imaging tests. Including computerized tomography (CT) urogram, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), bone scan and chest X-ray, in order to determine the extension within your urinary tract and possible extension to other organs.
Bladder Cancer Treatment
Your bladder cancer treatment options depend on several factors, such as your tumor growth rate, the type of cancer, the presence of metastasis at the moment of diagnosis and the potential benefits or side effects of the available treatment options. Some of the options include:
Surgery for bladder cancer involves two principal procedures, Transurethral Resection of Bladder Tumor (TURBT), in case the bladder cancers is confined to the inner layers of the bladder, and cystectomy, in which your surgeon will remove all or part of the bladder. In the case of total cystectomy, a bladder reconstruction is necessary after the procedure, in order to create a new way for urine to leave your body, a procedure called urine diversion. One of the most common techniques is the Ileal conduit diversion, in which your surgeon creates a tube, using a piece of your intestine, to derive your urine.
Intravesical chemotherapy is used to treat tumors that are confined to the lining of the bladder and uses drugs to kill rapidly growing cells.
Used after surgery, in order to increase the curation rate in the case you had surgery to completely remove your bladder.
One of the available options is the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) injection, which is usually used as a vaccine to protect against tuberculosis. In the case of bladder cancer, it has shown very good results in advanced cancer.