Bladder Cancer

Bladder Cancer

Overview of Bladder Cancer

Bladder is the most common type of cancer. This type of cancer is found in nearly 68,000 adults in the United States. It is more common in men than women. It can also happen at any age, but most commonly in older adults. Most cases of bladder can be diagnosed in the early stages. If it is caught in these early stages, then it is typically easy to treat. Once bladder cancer has been treated, it is important to go through with follow-up tests in order to prevent the cancer coming back or advancing to higher stages. Bladder cancer begins in the urothelial cells. The urothelial cells line the inside of your bladder. This type of cancer can also be found in the urinary tract drainage system.

About the Bladder

In bladder cancer, the cancer will typically begin in the urothelial cells, which line in the inside of the bladder. The bladder is a hollow and muscular organ that stores the urine. The bladder is located in the lower abdomen.

Types of Bladder Cancer

There are three types of bladder cancer, and it depends on the cells in your bladder that become cancerous. Your treatment will depend on the type of cancer you have. The most common type of bladder cancer is urothelial carcinoma, also known as transitional cell carcinoma. This type of cancer is inside the cells of the lining of the bladder. These cells will expand when the bladder becomes full, and reversely, contact when empty. The next type is squamous cell carcinoma. This type is rare in the United States and is more common in parts of the world where parasitic infections are common. Squamous cell carcinoma is almost associated with chronic irritation of the bladder. Adenocarcinoma occurs in cells that are in the mucus-secreting glands in the bladder. This is very rare in the United States of America. Some cases of bladder cancer are a combination of more than one.

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

The most common symptoms of bladder cancer are pelvic pain, blood in the urine, or painful urination. Blood in the urine can also be called hematuria, which may appear as a red or cola colored. You may not be able to tell that there is blood in the urine and may only be seen under a microscope. In some cases, people may also experience frequent urination or back pain. Most of the time, these symptoms are overlooked as something else. You will need to make an appointment with your physician if you are having blood in the urine or if you are experiencing concerning symptoms.

Causes of Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer occurs when the cells in the bladder begin to grow and divide. They are considered mutations because they grow and grow and never die. These cells are considered a tumor. People are more suspectable to bladder cancer if they use any form of tobacco or have exposure to chemicals or radiation. This chemical exposure is most likely to have happened on the job. If you have traveled overseas, you may have parasitic infections. Sometimes chronic irritation of the bladder lining can also lead to bladder cancer. There is no obvious cause of bladder cancer.

Risk Factors of Bladder Cancer

When you smoke cigarettes or any type of tobacco, the risk of bladder cancer is increased. The body will process these chemicals by excreting some of these chemicals through your urine. When these chemicals pass through the urine, it causes damage to the lining. Since the kidneys are responsible for filtering out chemicals. If you have worked around chemicals, then you may also be at a higher risk for bladder cancer.

Bladder cancer is most prevalent in people over the age of 40, in men, and in white people.

People who have previously gone through cancer treatment are at an increased risk for bladder cancer because of some of the drugs. Being exposed to radiation treatments is also a risk. Another risk is chronic bladder infections. Lastly, if you have a family history of bladder cancer or if you have had it before, then you are at a high risk.

Diagnosis of Bladder Cancer

There are many different tests to diagnose bladder cancer. A sample of the urine may be taken first to see if there is blood in the urine. Sometimes this is also called urine cytology. Cystoscopy is when a small tube is inserted through the urethra. The scope has a lens that will allow the physician to see inside the urethra and the bladder. During the scope, they can look for signs of the cancer. During the scope, they can send a tool through the scope to take a biopsy. This procedure can also be called TURBT, or Transurethral Resection of Bladder Tumor. An imaging test, such as a computerized tomography urogram (CT), also known as retrograde pyelogram, may be ordered. This type of testing will let physicians to see the structures of the urinary tract. A CT urogram begins when a contract dye is injected into the vein in your hand and this liquid flows into the kidneys, bladder, and ureters. When the images are taken, they can see a detailed view.

Once the diagnosis of bladder cancer is confirmed, there are additional testing that can be done to determine the extent of the cancer and if it has spread to other areas of the body. A CT scan, MRI, chest x-ray, or bone scan may help to see other parts of the body. Once the imaging is done, there are numbers that are assigned to the stage of cancer. The numbers range from 0 to IV, with IV being the highest.

Bladder Cancer is further classified into how the cells appear when they are seen under the microscope. Your physician may describe your tumor as a low-grade bladder tumor or a high-grade bladder tumor. A low-grade bladder tumor has cells that are close in appearance and they are organized. These grow very slowly and are less likely to invade the muscular wall. A high-grade bladder tumor is very abnormal looking and is poorly differentiated. A high-grade tumor grows very fast and is very likely to spread.

Treatment of Bladder Cancer

Treatment will depend on the type of cancer, the stage of cancer, the grade, and your overall health. Surgery can be recommended to remove any cancerous tissues. Reconstruction can also help to create a new way for the urine to exit the body. Chemotherapy can be directly to the bladder to treat tumors but have a high risk of recurrence. Chemotherapy for the whole body is a primary treatment when surgery is not an option. Radiation therapy is used to destroy cancer cells when surgery is not chosen.

There are a variety of surgery options. You can find more about surgery options on our website here. Talk with your physician about what they recommend for your diagnosis.

Prevention of Bladder Cancer

There is no guarantee to preventing bladder cancer but there are some important steps to take to take better care of yourself. It is important that you quit smoking. If you are not a smoker, then do not begin smoking. If you smoke and are trying to quit smoking, then it may be helpful to follow your physician’s recommendation for cessation tools or to join a support group. If you work around chemicals, be sure to follow all of the precautions to avoid exposure. You will also need to eat a healthy diet of plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Support with Bladder Cancer

After you have gone through treatment with bladder cancer, it is important to keep going to your checkups. You will also need to go through routine testing as your physician recommends. Write out a journal before and after your appointments. It is important to remember what questions and concerns you will have before the appointment, and then what your physician recommends. Find other people who have gone through the same thing, such as if there are support groups or friends that are willing to listen. It is also important to take care of yourself so that your body is prepared to fight cancer if it comes back. This can be done through eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep.

Summary of Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is very common in Americans. It is important to let your physician know if you are experiencing any symptoms that may not be normal and if you are not comfortable. There are a variety of tests that can be done to give a proper diagnosis. Speak with your physician about what the results are and find out what the best treatment would be for your diagnosis. If a diagnosis is given early, then treatment should be easy. It is essential that you keep your follow up appointments and testing to prevent cancer from coming back or becoming stronger. Keep a notebook of what questions you may have and take it with you to write notes at your appointment.

Request An Appointment

To request an appointment with Urology, call 251-343-9090. To request an appointment with Radiation Oncology, call 251-414-5665.

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