About 7 out of 10 bladder cancers are diagnosed at an early stage when they are highly treatable. However, not every treatment is perpetual, not to forget the recurrent property of cancer.
What is Bladder Cancer?
Bladder cancer affects the tissue of the bladder, a muscular membranous sac in the abdomen, which collects urine from kidneys for exertion.
One amongst the most common types of cancer, bladder cancer affects around 45,000 men and 17,000 women every year in the USA, says the National Institute of Health. The bladder can if found in men more than in women, typically in older men. However, it can affect anyone at any age.
Types of Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer can affect almost any type of cells, and these affected cells determine the type of cancer. Likewise, the treatment needed is also a subject to these cells.
The following are the three types of bladder cancer:
- Transitional Carcinoma
Transitional carcinoma is the most common type of bladder cancer, which originates in the transitional cells in the inner layer of the bladder. These cells are able to change their shape when the tissue is stretched without being damaged.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is a rare bladder cancer in the USA, though; it relates to chronic irritation of the bladder. It begins flat, thin squamous cells form in the bladder as a result of a long-term irritation or infection in the bladder.
Adenocarcinoma is another rare cancer in the USA, which begins with the formation of glandular cells (that make up mucus-secreting gland) in the bladder due to a long-term bladder inflammation or irritation.
Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
The primary symptom of bladder cancer is blood in urine, but an affected individual may or may not experience pain while urinating. Other common symptoms of bladder cancer can be weight loss, bone tenderness, fatigue, which are also very common in other advanced diseases.
You must pay close attention to the following symptoms:
- Blood in the urine
- Urgent urination
- Painful urination
- Urinary incontinence
- Pain in the lower back
- Frequent urination
- Pain in the abdominal area
Cause of Bladder Cancer
Although the exact cause of bladder cancer is unknown, it begins when abnormal cells in the body grow and multiply uncontrollably and invade other organs in the surrounding.
Smoking is considered to increase the risk of getting bladder cancer in half of the men and women worldwide. Here are some more factors that one or the other way increase the risk of bladder cancer:
- Chronic bladder infection
- Low fluid consumption
- Being white
- Being male
- Exposure to cancer-causing chemicals
- A high-fat diet
- A family history of bladder cancer
- Aging (typically after the age of 55)
- A radiation therapy in the pelvic area in the past
- A previous therapy with Cytoxan – a chemotherapy drug
Bladder Cancer Diagnosis
Bladder cancer may be diagnosed using the following methods when performed by a doctor:
- A CT scan to view the bladder
- A urinalysis
- A biopsy that involves inserting a small tool through the urethra into your body, aimed at extracting a tissue of your bladder to perform a cancer test.
- An intravenous pyelogram
- A manual examination that involves a doctor inserting a gloved finger into your rectum to feel the lumps (if any) indicating cancerous growth.
- A cystoscopy that involves a doctor inserting a narrow tube with a camera on it through your urethra, aiming at looking inside your bladder.
Based on the examination, your doctor may rate bladder cancer ranging from 0 to 4, which is based on how far the cancer cells have spread. The cancer stage means the following:
- Stage 0 – This rating means that the cancer cells haven’t spread past the bladder lining.
- Stage 1 – This rating means that the cancer cells have spread past the bladder lining but haven’t reached the muscle layer in the bladder.
- Stage 2 – This rating means that the cancer cells have reached the muscle layer in the bladder.
- Stage 3 – This rating means that the cancer cells have spread into the tissues surrounding the bladder.
- Stage 4 – This rating means that the cancer cells have spread past the bladder and reached the neighborhood.
Bladder Cancer Treatment
Based on your stage of bladder cancer, symptoms and overall health, your doctor will decide what treatment you need. Here is the list of treatments subject to their respective cancer stages.
- Stage 0 and Stage 1 Bladder Cancer Treatment
This stage of cancer treatment includes a surgery to remove the tumor from the bladder, immunotherapy or chemotherapy, which involves medication to prevent your immune system from attacking the cancer cells.
- Stage 2 and Stage 3 Bladder Cancer Treatment
The treatment for bladder cancer on these stages includes
- Removal of part of your bladder along with chemotherapy
- Removal of the bladder from your body and making a new way for urine exertion
- Shrinking the tumor by chemotherapy, immunotherapy or radiation therapy to kill the remaining cancer cells or avoid recurring, typically when surgery isn’t the possible option.
- Stage 4 Bladder Cancer Treatment
The treatment for bladder cancer on stage 4 includes
- Direct chemotherapy to relieve cancer symptoms and extend your life
- Chemotherapy, immunotherapy or radiation therapy to kill the remaining cancer cells to relieve cancer symptoms and extend your life
- Radical cystectomy along with the removal of lymph nodes in the surroundings and making a new way for urine exertion
- Clinical trial drugs
Bladder Cancer Prevention
As the exact cause of bladder cancer isn’t known, it may or may not preventable in all possible cases. However, the following practices can always help prevent bladder cancer:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Not Smoking
- Staying away from Passive Smoking
- Stay away from carcinogenic chemicals
Bladder cancer is treatable at all stages, but the survival rate doesn’t always tell the story behind and can’t predict the future. You should always talk about your symptoms and ask whatever questions you may have regarding cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.