Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that develops in your bladder- a hollow balloon-shaped mostly muscular organ that stores urine until ready for release. Bladder cancer starts most often in the cells that are located inside the bladder. Bladder cancer is not limited to any age but often seen in older adults.
Bladder cancer is highly treatable, only when it is diagnosed at an early stage. However, bladder cancer is likely to recur. Only for this reason, bladder cancer survivors have to undergo follow-ups to check for bladder cancer recurrence.
Symptoms associated with bladder cancer
Signs and symptoms of bladder cancer may include:
Causes of bladder cancer
The manner in which bladder cancer grows and progresses is not fully understood. However, a number of factors have been identified. Cancer-causing agents in cigarette smoke
and various industrial chemicals top the charts. In fact, cigarette smoking is responsible for 50 percent of all bladder cancer cases across the world. Moreover, 20 to 25 percent of bladder cancer cases are due to long-term workplace exposure to chemical compounds
such as paints and solvents. Presence of carcinogens in the blood stream makes the bladder a high risk organ for cancer, particularly in smokers
. Most of the bladder cancer cases start in the inner lining of the bladder.
Tests and diagnosis for bladder cancer
Tests and procedures used to diagnose bladder cancer may include:
- Cystoscopy: In cystoscopy, the doctor inserts a narrow tube through your urethra. The tube contains a lens and fiber-optic lighting system which enables the doctor to see the inside of your urethra and bladder.
- Biopsy: During cystoscopy, your doctor may use a special tool to collect a cell sample for testing. This process is called transurethral resection (TUR).
- Urine cytology: A sample of urine is taken and then analyzed under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
- Imaging tests: Imaging tests enables your physician to look at the structures of your urinary tract. Tests to highlight the urinary tract sometimes use a dye, which is injected into a vein before the procedure.
Treatments for bladder cancer
The treatment for bladder cancer is based on a number of factors including the kind and stage of the cancer, your overall health, and your treatment preferences. Some of the treatment methods include:
- Surgery to remove the tumor: Transurethral resection is commonly applied to eliminate bladder cancers that occur in the inner layers of the bladder. The process involves the doctor passing a mall wire loop through a cystoscope and into your bladder. The loop burns away cancer cells with an electric current.
- Surgery to remove the tumor and a small portion of the bladder: It is often known by the name segmental cystectomy or partial cystectomy, where the surgeon removes only the portion of the bladder that contains cancer cells.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy, commonly known as biological therapy operates on the signals given by your body's immune system to help fight cancer cells. Biological therapy for bladder cancer is usually administered through your urethra and directly into the bladder.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy may be used to kill cancer cells that might remain post surgery. Different drugs are used in combination to interfere with the production of cancer cells. Drugs can be given through a vein in your arm or administered directly to your bladder.
It’s easier to cope with the after effects of treatment when you connect with other bladder cancer survivors who are experiencing the same fears you're feeling.