Bladder Cancer Symptoms and Treatment

According to a study, bladder cancer is one of the most common type of cancers. Every year around 60,000 to 80,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer and around 10,000 people lose their lives to this disease.
What is Bladder?
Bladder is a muscular, balloon shaped hollow organ that stores urine (Urine is a fluid that contains water and waste soluble in water that are not required by our body). The kidney separates the waste product from our blood and passes it on to the bladder in order to throw it out of our body.

Bladder Cancer:
Bladder cancer is caused due to growth of carcinogen cells in the bladder. The lumps (nodules) developed inside the bladder can be malignant or benign. There are several types of bladder cancer namely Transitional Cell Carcinoma (which is a common type of bladder cancer. This type of cancer develops in the cells in the lining of the bladder walls), Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and glandular cell carcinoma known as Adenocarcinomas.

Besides the types of bladder cancer, it is also classified based on the nature of tumor and the extent it has spread. The bladder cancer is called superficial bladder cancer if the tumor has not left the linings of bladder and has not yet spread to the other part. The bladder cancer is called invasive cancer if it has started spreading to the muscle walls of the bladder (This type of cancer has more probability of spreading to the other parts of body).

Who is at risk?
Like any other type of cancer, people in old age are mainly at risk of developing bladder cancer (People of age group 60 and above). History indicates that majority of patients suffering from bladder cancer are male patients (about 70% are male among the patients suffering from bladder cancer). According to a study obese people, cigarette smokers, and people who prefer junk or processed food and intake very less amount of fruits and vegetable in diet are at the highest risk of developing bladder cancer. Also people who are suffering from hematuria are at high risk of developing bladder cancer.

Along with the above mentioned group of people, people who come in contact with minerals such as iron, steel etc. and other cancer causing environmental toxic substances are also at the risk of developing bladder cancer.

What are the symptoms of bladder Cancer?
There are quite a few symptoms of bladder cancer, which includes:
1) Patient cannot hold normal volume of urine and needs to pass it frequently.
2) Patient may experience pain in the area near bladder such as pain in pelvis and also while urinating.
3) Burning sensation when passing urine
4) Patient may feel as if his/her bladder is filled and feel the urge to urinate but not able to urinate

How is bladder cancer diagnosed?
There are several ways to diagnose bladder cancer. Your doctor may first try to test your urine sample for possible infection and blood strains. Your doctor may suggest you to undergo Cystoscopy in order to find out any abnormality inside the bladder. A Urogram (also known as Intravenous Pyelogram) can also be used to diagnose bladder cancer (In urogram, the patient is injected with a special type of die, which is further excreted from blood by kidney. This die is then examined through X-Ray scanning in order to find out any abnormality). Along with the above mentioned techniques, CT scan, MRI scans and few more techniques such as ultrasound imaging, and urine based tests are used to diagnose bladder cancer.

Bladder Cancer treatment:
Similar to most of the other types of cancers, bladder cancer also can be treated with surgery, radiotherapy, hormone therapy, medication, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, nutritional therapy, interferon/interleukin etc. Surgery (also known as Cystectomy) is used to remove the infected part of the bladder or entire bladder from the patient’s body (the organs removed in men during Cystectomy are bladder, prostate and lymph nodes and in women bladder, uterus and also some part of anterior vagina-wall are removed). Medication can be used to destroy the remaining infected cells and help the patient regain strength after surgery. The type and combination of various treatments to be followed will be decided by physician based on the stage bladder cancer is in and the complexity involved.

For the patients with bladder cancer in its early stage, Transuretral Resection (TUR) can also be used based on the various parameters. In this technique, the tumor on the wall of bladder is scrapped using resectoscope.

However, there are certain side effects of various treatments such as destruction of uninfected cells after radiotherapy; patient might experience lethargy due to high power medication etc. It is very important to pay attention to patient’s diet and take proper medication after the cancer treatment. Patient also needs to undergo bladder re-construction therapy after his/her infected bladder is removed.

How should I minimize my risk of bladder cancer?
1) Quit smoking, as smokers are at the highest risk level of developing any type of cancer.
2) Try to include vegetables and fruits in your daily diet and avoid junk or processed food.
3) Try to avoid toxic substances such as chemicals etc. Take necessary precautions before you handle such things.
4) Exercise regularly

By Nilesh Parekh
Published: 5/13/2007

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