Bladder Cancer – A Hidden Menace
Bladder cancer is a very common type of tumor that occurs in the tissues of the bladder.
The primary function of the bladder is to hold urine filtrated by the kidneys for later excretion. When cells of the bladder start growing out of control, bladder cancer develops.
According to the National Institutes of Health, bladder cancer affects approximately 62,000 people in the United States alone.
In this article, we will discuss the causes of bladder cancer, how it clinically presents, and the available treatment options.
Causes of bladder cancer
Similar to other types of tumors, the exact causes of bladder cancer are still unclear.
Cancer occurs when cells found in the bladder undergo a genetic mutation that disrupts their normal multiplication cycle.
Throughout years of research, scientists identified several risk factors for bladder cancer. Smoking is by far the most important risk factor, with one study estimating that it is responsible for 50% of all cases of bladder cancer.
Other factors that increase the risk of bladder cancer include:
- Long-term exposure to carcinogenic chemicals
- Exposure to radiation in the pelvic area
- Receiving chemotherapy treatment with an agent known as Cytoxan
- Chronic infections in the bladder
- A diet rich in fat
- Having a family history of bladder cancer
Besides these risk factors, there are some non-modifiable traits that may predispose you to bladder cancer:
- Advanced age (most cases of bladder cancer occur in individuals over the age of 55)
- Race (Caucasians are more likely to develop bladder cancer relative to other races)
- Gender (men are at a higher risk of bladder cancer)
Signs and symptoms of bladder cancer
The first sign of bladder cancer is urine in the blood. Patients do not report any painful sensations during the early stages of disease.
Other non-specific symptoms of bladder cancer include fatigue, weight loss, and pain in the bones. Unfortunately, these symptoms indicate an advanced stage of bladder cancer.
With that said, here is a list of common signs and symptoms that you should pay attention to:
- Blood in the urine
- Dysuria (pain during urination)
- Pollakiuria (frequent urination
- Painful urination
- Frequent urination
- The urgency to urinate
- Urinary incontinence
- Pain in the abdominal area
Treatment of bladder cancer
The treatment of bladder cancer highly depends on the stage of your tumor.
Stage 0 and stage 1
In most of these cases, the surgical removal of the cancer combined with chemotherapy and immunotherapy is sufficient enough to clear off the cancerous cells.
Stage 2 and stage 3
The treatment of stages 2 and 3 is typically more advanced, including radical cystectomy (the removal of the entire bladder), chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy.
Stage 4 bladder cancer
Stage 4 bladder cancer indicates the widespread of cancer to the surrounding organs and tissues.
In this case, the doctor will attempt to improve the life of the patient by prescribing chemotherapy or clinical trial drugs.
Bladder cancer is a real health problem responsible for taking the lives of thousands of people every year.
We hope that this article managed to introduce bladder cancer in a simple manner.