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Bladder Cancer

A tumor that forms in the tissues of the urinary bladder is known as bladder cancer. The bladder is a hollow muscular organ located in the pelvis that collects and stores urine.

Based on the affected cell type, the following are the various classifications for bladder cancer:

  • Transitional cell carcinomas
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Small cell carcinoma

In India, bladder cancer is the most common urological cancer being the fifth most prevalent cancer among men.

Some of the risk factors for Bladder Cancer include;

  • Smoking
  • Exposure to workplace chemicals such as benzidine and beta-naphthylamine typically found in the dye industry
  • Aging: Risk increases after the age of 55
  • Gender: More common among men than women
  • Chronic bladder irritation or infection such as urinary infections and kidney and bladder stones
  • Personal history of bladder cancer
  • Bladder birth defects
  • Family history
  • Arsenic traces in drinking water
  • Low fluid consumption

Common Symptoms and Signs that Bladder Cancer may be present

  • Blood in urine
  • Increased urge to empty the bladder
  • Increased frequency in urination
  • Increased urge to empty the bladder without results
  • Needing to strain or bear down when emptying the bladder
  • Pain when emptying the bladder
  • Having lower back pain

Diagnosis of Bladder Cancer

Although symptoms may suggest that cancer is present, the use of diagnostic imaging, biopsies and other tests can help confirm whether the cancer really exists.

The following are tests that may be conducted in diagnosing bladder cancer:

  • Urine cytology
  • Intravenous pyelogram
  • Retrograde pyelogram
  • Ultrasound
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • Chest X-ray
  • Bone scan
  • Bladder biopsy

Treatment Options for Bladder Cancer

Treatment options may consist of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy or any combination of these treatments.

  • In a surgical process, the surgeon may remove part of or the entire bladder and possibly surrounding tissues, lymph nodes and organs which may be affected
  • Chemotherapy may be used. Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses anti-cancer drugs to kill or stop the growth of cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy is another option of cancer treatment that uses high-energy radiation beams to eliminate cancer cells or stop them from growing. Radiation therapy consists of external beam radiotherapy and brachytherapy or internal radiation therapy.
  •  External beam is a treatment option that uses localized high energy radiation beams to eliminate cancer cells and keep them from growing.
  • Brachytherapy uses a radioactive substance, usually in the form of seeds which are placed directly into or near the cancer which helps to shrink the tumor.
  • Biological therapy is sometime used to. This treatment is given via a solution containing a weakened bacterium which is introduced to the affected area. The bacteria strain works with the immune system to kill the cancer cells.