Bladder Cancer

What is Bladder Cancer?

When our bladder cells start growing abruptly, it causes bladder cancer. The benign cells increase in volume and come together. This creates a tumor. This tumor spreads to different body parts. The origin of bladder cancer is still unknown. Common risk factors are tobacco smoking, chemical exposure, and family history. Cancer starts from the bladder lining, also called urothelial cells. These cells can be seen in our kidneys and tubes connecting them to our bladder. Even though bladder cancer can be found in the ureters, it is more prominent in our bladder.

Bladder cancer is easily detected at the initial stages and is curable. However, early-stage cancers can recur after successful treatments. Therefore, bladder cancer patients must follow up with tests and examinations post-treatment. This follow-up should be continuous and can go on for years.

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    Types

    Bladder cancer can be of three major types:

    Urothelial Carcinoma

    This cancer impacts our bladder lining. Urothelial cancer is a widespread bladder cancer type. It accounts for around 90 percent of all bladder cancer cases. Around 10-15 percent of an adult’s kidney-related issues comprise bladder cancer. Bladder Cancer starts in the urothelial cells in our urinary tract. It is also known as TCC or transitional cell cancer/carcinoma.

    Squamous Cell cancer

    Chronic bladder irritation is a major symptom of squamous cell cancer. It can be due to infection or using urinary catheters for a long time. This cancer is common in locations with parasitic infections such as schistosomiasis.

    Adenocarcinoma

    This cancer starts within the cell lining of mucus-secreting bladder glands. It is a rare cancer type.

    Symptoms

    Urinary issues are among the most prevalent symptoms associated with bladder cancer. Urine-infused blood is among the earliest symptoms. It can also be pink, dark red, or orange. Talk to a doctor if you see the following symptoms:

    • Bloody or cloudy urine
    • Frequent urinatory urge
    • Pain or burning sensation while urinating

    These symptoms can also be due to bladder stones, prostate inflammation, UTI, or even overactive bladder. In each case, evaluate your symptoms right away.

    If the tumor has metastasized, these are the symptoms one should look for:

    • Unexplained loss of weight
    • Backache
    • Extreme exhaustion
    • Painful bones
    • Not feeling hungry
    • Swollen feed
    • Reduced output of urine
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    Causes

    Bladder cancer has been identified as a frequent and common cancer type. Men are more prone to this cancer compared to women. Also, older persons are more prone to this cancer. Yet, anyone can get this cancer at any phase of their life. Bladder cancer develops when the bladder cells start growing and dividing abnormally. These cells mutate, grow and bond with similar cells. This results in a tumor. At the same time, healthy cells die. Understand the causes so that they can be avoided or prevented. These causes can be:

    • Exposure to toxic or harmful chemics
    • Parasitic infections
    • Radiation exposure
    • Congenital abnormalities of the bladder
    • Chronic irritation or inflammation in the bladder lining

    Risk Factors: Several other risk factors increase the chances of bladder cancer. These can be:

    Smoking: Cigars, pipes, or cigarette smoking is dangerous for the bladder. It results in toxins build-up in our urine. These compounds harm the lining of the bladder, increasing cancer risk.

    Age: With age, bladder cancer risk automatically increases. Chances of cancer before 40 years is rare but happens.

    Gender: Men are more prone to bladder cancer compared to women.

    Family History: If you underwent treatment for bladder cancer, chances of recurrence are likely. Risk further increases if a close family member had or has bladder cancer. They can be children, siblings, or parents.

    Personal History: Those extensively using a urinary catheter may have an increased risk of squamous cell cancer. Parasitic illnesses can also increase risk.

    Stages

    Stage of the bladder cancer is based on several factors. These can be cancer spread, the location of the spread, and its prognosis. The various stages are:

    Stage 0: It is the genesis stage of cancer. This means the cancer is developing in the bladder lining. Symptoms are non-existent at this stage.

    Stage I: Cancer starts penetrating the connective tissues below the lining of the bladder.

    Stage II: It has reached the muscles of the wall. They reach via the layer of connective tissues.

    Stage III: In this stage, cancer might have reached the layer below the muscles. It may spread across the vaginal area, lymph nodes, prostate, or womb.

    Stage IV: In this stage, cancer has reached the abdomen and the hip area. It can also reach other sections like the liver, lungs, or bones.

    Diagnosis

    Anyone showing symptoms of bladder cancer should conduct a diagnosis. It is important to examine areas like the urethra, bladder, kidneys, or pelvis areas. For older people, these tests are necessary as cancer might have spread. Diagnosis tests for bladder cancer can be:

    Urine Tests: Conduct urine tests if you assume bladder cancer. These can be ‘

    • Urine cytology
    • Urinalysis
    • Urine culture

    Imaging Test: These can be Pyelogram, sonography, USG, MRI, CT, IVP, or cystoscopy. These tests reveal abnormalities or tumors in the ureters, kidneys, urethra, or bladder.

    Biopsy: Your doctor may recommend a biopsy for analyzing the disruptive tissues. A biopsy is done either in the lab or in the operating room. Clinics use cystoscopy for conducting biopsies.

    TURBT (Transurethral Resection of Bladder Tumor): In this technique, cystoscopy resects the bladder mass. This confirms the tumor size. It provides a detailed analysis of the tumor cells. This helps in establishing the right treatment plans.

    Treatment

    Treatment for bladder cancer is specific. It depends on the cancer type and stage, among others. Doctors usually combine distinct types of treatment plans. This helps in providing holistic care. Yet, recovery depends on your body’s response and your overall health. Some common treatments are chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiotherapy. These treatments destroy the tumor cells present within the bladder. Patients undergo surgical interventions during the initial stage. Initial surgery removes the growth of the cancer cells. After that, treatment therapies can help in reducing any recurrence.

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