Bladder Cancer

Overview

Bladder cancer is the abnormal growth and multiplication of cells of the bladder that become cancerous and cause tumors. Bladder cancer is among the most common cancers that affects hundreds of thousands of people from one continent to another.

Bladder cancer occurs more in men more than women and normally affects elderly people even though it also occurs at earlier ages.

Unlike other cancers, bladder cancer can be diagnosed early since it causes blood in the urine or other urinary symptoms that make a person to seek medical attention.

The first sign of bladder cancer is blood in the urine (hematuria) which occurs in the early stages. The urine may turn its color to orange, pink, or less often, dark red.

Bladder cancer is among the deadliest types of cancers. As of 2015, about 3.4 million people globally were affected while about 430,000 new cases are reported annually.

At the same time, at least 188,000 deaths resulted from bladder cancer in 2015. The majority of the people affected are often between 65 and 85 years.

Approximately 7 out of every 10 bladder cancers diagnosed start out at an early stage when the bladder is highly treatable.

Symptoms

The common signs and symptoms of blood cancer include:

People with hematuria often have bright red or cola colored urine. At times the urine may not change color but blood in urine may be detected during a microscopic exam of the urine.

Other symptoms associated with bladder cancer include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Back pain

However, these symptoms often occur when something else triggers them other than bladder cancer.

Causes

Bladder cancer develops when cells in the bladder start growing abnormally and multiply in uncontrollable way. They do not die and when they become many, they form a tumor.

The main perceived cause of bladder cancer is smoking and other forms of tobacco use. Other risk factors associated with bladder cancer are as follows.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase the risk of developing bladder cancer include:

  • Exposure to chemicals used in leather, rubber, textile, paint, dye, and print industries
  • Age whereby more than 70% of individuals diagnosed are over 65 years old
  • Gender: men are 4 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than women, but women are more likely to die from the disease than men
  • Race: white people are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer as black individuals but black individuals are twice as likely to die from the disease
  • Chronic bladder problems such as urinary infections and related complications
  • Pioglitazone (Actos) use such as diabetes drug pioglitazone for over one year may have an increased risk of bladder cancer
  • Cyclophosphamide use especially for people who have chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide
  • Personal history whereby there is a chance of recurrence

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask you about the symptoms and personal history concerning bladder cancer alongside physical examination. Thereafter, the doctor will carry out some tests to find or diagnose cancer.

The doctor may use a biopsy to remove tissue sample for further test. If a biopsy is not possible, the doctor may use other test.

Urine test may use to determine the amount of blood in the urine where a urine cytology may be ordered. 

Cystoscopy which is the key diagnostic procedure for bladder cancer may be used. Another test that may be used is Transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT).

Other tests that may be used are imaging tests such as CT Scan, X-ray, MRI, CT, or positron emission tomography (PET) scans.

Types of bladder cancer

Urothelial carcinoma: Occurs in the cells that line the inside of the bladder. The cells expand when the bladder is full and contract when empty.

Squamous cell carcinoma: It is associated with chronic irritation of the bladder from long-term use of a urinary catheter.

Adenocarcinoma: Starts in cells that make up mucus-secreting glands in the bladder.

Treatment

The most common treatment options for throat cancer are:

  • Surgery: It is used to remove the tumor and affected tissue by excising them or cutting them out. 
  • Radiation therapy: Targeted doses of radiation aim to kill the cancerous cells in the throat
  • Chemotherapy: Infusions of drugs target and kill cancer cells in the throat. In this case, chemotherapy must be done for the whole body/systemic chemotherapy to increase chance for a cure.
  • Reconstruction: Used to create a new way for urine to exit the body after bladder removal
  • Immunotherapy: Helps to trigger the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells, either in the bladder or throughout the body.

Sometimes the doctor may recommend a combination of these treatments to eliminate the tumor and prevent a recurrence.

Prevention

Even though there is no guaranteed way to prevent bladder cancer, you can take steps to help reduce the risk. Some of these steps include:

For more information on diagnosis and/or treatment, speak to a doctor, or get access to a hospital near you through the Uzima Health App.