Bladder Cancer

The bladder is the triangle-shaped, hollow organ that is located in the lower abdomen. It is responsible for holding the urine. Bladder cancer occurs in the tissues of the bladder. There are three types of bladder cancer:

  • Transitional Cell Carcinoma – It is the most common type of bladder cancer and begins in the inner layer of the bladder. Transitional cells are the ones that can change shape without becoming damaged when the tissue is stretched
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma – This type of cancer is quite rare and begins within the thin and flat squamous cells form in the bladder after a long-term infection in the bladder
  • Adenocarcinoma – This cancer begins when glandular cells form in the bladder after inflammation and irritation. These cells make up the mucus-secreting glands in the body

Causes of Bladder Cancer (Risk Factors)

  • Smoking – Smoking cigarettes, pipes, or cigars can increase the risk of bladder cancer as it causes harmful chemicals to accumulate in the urine. These chemicals can damage the lining of your bladder which can increase the risk of cancer
  • Exposure to certain chemicals – Exposure to chemicals like arsenic and chemicals used in the manufacturing of dyes, rubber, paint, textiles, and leather can raise the risk of bladder cancer. The kidneys filter these harmful chemicals from the bloodstream and move them into the bladder which increases the risk
  • Supplements – Dietary supplements that contain aristolochic acid can put you at a higher risk of bladder cancer
  • Dehydration – Researchers believe that people who drink water or other liquids, empty their bladders often which keeps harmful chemicals from sticking around in the bladder which keeps the bladder cancer risk minimal
  • Chronic bladder inflammation – Chronic infections like repeated urinary infections or inflammation which might happen with long-term use of a urinary catheter may increase the risk of bladder cancer
  • Age and gender factors – The risk of developing bladder cancer increases as you age and men are more likely to develop bladder cancer than women

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

  • Painful urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain in the abdominal area
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain in the lower back region
  • Urinary incontinence

Prevention of Bladder Cancer

  • Avoid smoking
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid carcinogenic chemicals
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables

Diagnosis of Bladder Cancer

Tests and procedures that are used to diagnose bladder cancer can include the following:

  • Cystoscopy – It is the use of a scope to examine the insides of the bladder. The doctor inserts a small, narrow tube through the urethra. The cystoscope has a lens that allows the doctor to see the inside of bladder and urethra. The doctor examines them further to see signs of disease
  • Biopsy – During the cystoscopy, the doctor may pass a special tool into your bladder to collect cell samples for testing, which is called Biopsy
  • Imaging Tests – Imaging test like CT or computerized Tomography helps the doctor examine the structures of the urinary tract
  • Urine Cytology – In this, a sample of your urine is taken and analyzed under the microscope to look for cancer cells

Once it is confirmed that you have bladder cancer, further tests are done to see if your cancer has spread to other parts of the body. These tests may include:

  • Chest X-Ray
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Positron Emission tomography (PET)
  • CT  Scan
  • Bone Scan

Treatment of Bladder Cancer

Treatment of bladder cancer can depend on various factors, like the type of cancer, its grade and stage of cancer. Even the overall health is taken into consideration before the treatment is given. Following are some treatment options available for bladder cancer:

  • Surgery – It follows the removal of cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy of the bladder – This is done to treat cancers that are confined to the bladder’s lining
  • Radiation therapy – It is done to destroy the cancer cells using powerful beams of energy like X-Rays and protons. It directs the energy beams to precise points in the body. This is usually done when surgery isn’t an option
  • Immunotherapy – It is a drug treatment done to trigger the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. It might be given intravenously or directly into the bladder
  • Targeted Therapy – It is used to treat advanced stages of cancer when other treatments fail. These drugs focus on specific weaknesses and cause the cancer cells to die

    After the cancer treatment, doctors may recommend a test t examine the inside of the urethra and bladder every 3-6 months for the first few years. After that, they would recommend you to get it done once a year to see if the cancer is recurring.