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Treatment options for bladder cancer

  • Posted on- Apr 09, 2016
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Occurrence of malignant cells in the tissues of the bladder is known as bladder cancer. Bladder is a small sac situated in the lower abdomen. It stores urine until it is passed out of the body. The risk of developing bladder cancer varies according to gender, diet and bad habits like smoking. Bladder cancer treatment and chances of recovery from the cancer vary from person to person. Urine test and examination of vagina and rectum help detect this cancer. Being exposed to certain harmful substances at work or having an infection caused by certain parasites increase your chances of developing bladder cancer.

Types of Bladder Cancer

 It is necessary to know about the types of bladder cancer because the prognosis of the cancer varies according to the types and stages of the cancer.

  • Transitional cell carcinoma: This is the most common type of bladder cancer that begins in the cells present in the innermost tissue layer of the bladder.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: This type of cancer begins in squamous cells. Squamous cells are thin, flat cells that develop in the bladder after chronic infection or irritation.
  • Adenocarcinoma: Growth of cancer cells in glandular (secretory) cells of the bladder is known as adenocarcinoma. It can occur as a result of chronic irritation and inflammation.
  • Superficial: Cancer that is present only in the lining of the bladder is called superficial bladder cancer.
  • Invasive: When the cancer in the transitional cells spreads to nearby organs and lymph nodes, it is called invasive bladder cancer.

Bladder Cancer Treatment Guidelines

Blood in the urine and pain during urination, are some of the serious signs of bladder cancer and one should immediately consult an oncologist after noticing these signs. These are described as the possible signs of bladder cancer. Frequent urination and lower back pain are also some of the commonly noticed symptoms of the cancer. After confirming the diagnosis of the cancer with the help of a CT scan, biopsy or cystoscopy, the oncologist informs the patient about various treatment options. Staging of bladder cancer helps determine the correct treatment. Depending upon the size and spread of the tumour, the condition is described as stage 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 cancer. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and biologic therapy are the main treatment options available. Biotherapy or immunotherapy boost the body's own natural defences (immune system) to attack the cancer.

Surgeries for bladder cancer

The tumour is burned away with high-energy electricity after inserting the cystoscope into the bladder through urethra. This procedure is known as fulguration. Surgical removal of the bladder, lymph nodes, along with some nearby organs that contain cancer is known as radical cystectomy. Prostate and the seminal vesicles in men and the uterus, the ovaries, and part of the vagina in women is usually removed during radical cystectomy. When the bladder is removed, another way to pass the urine out of the body has to be created during the surgery. Removal of a part of the bladder is known as segmental cystectomy and patients can urinate normally after this type of surgery. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy help kill the remaining cancer cells. Sometimes some drugs, vitamins or other substances are recommended to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Bladder Cancer Treatment with BCG

BCG treatment is a type of immunotherapy. The bacterial strain Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is used to stimulate the immune responses of the body. Strength of the body to fight against cancerous cells or to increase inflammatory responses to invade cancerous cells increases significantly with the use of BCG. This is the most common therapeutic option for management of bladder cancer symptoms. Specific doses of BCG are prescribed to patients diagnosed with stage 0 and stage 1. As BCG is believed to prevent recurrent growth of cancerous cells in the bladder, it is also administered to patients whose bladder has been removed during surgery. When BCG is used as a part of bladder cancer treatment, side effects are minimal, tolerable and often temporary. Side effects like skin rashes, cough, bladder irritation and increased lethargy may be noticed for about 3 days.

Apart from the above treatment options, some new methods are being developed by scientists to treat bladder cancer. After sufficient clinical trials, these treatment options will be made available for all which will help reduce the chances of recurrence, discomfort of the patients and will promote fast recovery. Bladder cancer treatment centres are in almost every town and city. The cancer detected in early stages is easy to treat and chances of recovery are quite high. Bladder cancer survival rates are as high as 98% and 88% for stage zero and stage one respectively. So if any of the above mentioned symptoms are noticed, one should immediately consult an oncologist.

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