Bladder cancer is the development of abnormal cells of the bladder lining.
Most cancers are slow-growing, but once they have spread to the bladder’s muscular wall, they are capable of spreading to the lungs, liver, bones or lymph nodes. Bladder cancer may not produce noticeable signs or symptoms in the early stages, but frequently people experience bloody urine.
Other symptoms can include frequent urination and/or painful urination. In advanced cases, cancer may spread beyond the bladder. Some patients may experience pelvic pain, bone pain, or weight loss.
Risk Factors For Bladder Cancer
Major risk factors for bladder cancer include:
- Workplace exposures (certain industrial chemicals, especially the rubber and leather industries)
- Race and ethnicity
- Caucasians are about twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as African Americans. Hispanics, Asian Americans and American Indians have lower rates of bladder cancer.
- The risk of bladder cancer increases with age. About 9 out of 10 people with bladder cancer are over the age of 55.
- Bladder cancer is more common in men than in women.
- Genetics and family history
- Arsenic exposure
- Low fluid consumption
Treatment Options For Bladder Cancer
Diagnosing the stage and grade of bladder cancer is necessary to allow our physicians to determine the treatment option that is best. After proper diagnosis, your physician will discuss the available treatments and how to move forward. Below are some common treatment options for bladder cancer.
Transurethral Resection (TUR)
This involves the removal of the bladder tumor using a scope that is guided into the bladder through the urethra. Your physician may use cystoscopy during your evaluation to look inside your bladder. This is generally done on an outpatient basis. No incisions are needed and recovery is rapid.
This is the use of medications, placed within the bladder via a catheter, to supplement surgical treatment of bladder cancer. It is not used with all patients, but when appropriate, may reduce the reoccurrence of bladder cancer.
Chemotherapy involves using medications to destroy cancer cells. Chemotheraphy may be used alone or in combination with radiation or surgery. Chemotherapy may help cure or control cancer, and may also be used to help relieve cancer symptoms, such as pain. Generally chemotherapy will be administered by an oncologist, not your urologist.
Radiation therapy involves using beams of energy to destroy cancer cells. With each therapy session, the tumor should decrease in size. Radiation can be used alone or with chemotherapy, before or after surgery. Although not commonly used to treat bladder cancer, radiation can be useful in certain cases.
This is the surgical removal of the entire bladder and surrounding lymph nodes. This is performed in conjunction with a procedure to divert the urine. This procedure is reserved for patients that have a low chance of cure from transurethral resection.