Bladder cancer is a pretty prevalent form of cancer that affects many people each year, especially older people. This type of cancer causes you to have troubles while urinating, like having blood in it, along with facing immense pain while doing so.
If you wish to know more about this disease, then read this post till the end.
Bladder Cancer Types
The main types of bladder cancer are:
- Transitional Cell Carcinoma: In this variation, the cancerous cells and the tumors start developing in your bladder’s inner wall. This is the most common type, being found in 90% of all cases. It’s also referred to as urothelial bladder cancer.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Here, the tumor develops in the thinner and flatter squamous cells of your bladder. This cancer stems from inflammations in your bladder and accounts for 5% of all cases.
- Adenocarcinoma: Here, the tumor starts developing in your outer bladder cells that are in contact with nearby organs and glands. This is rare and accounts for only 2% of all bladder cancer cases.
Bladder Cancer Development Stages
Just like all forms of cancer, bladder cancer has four developmental stages. They are as follows:
- Stage I: In this stage, the tumor resides in the inner walls of the bladder. This stage is still non-invasive.
- Stage II: This is the stage where cancer starts spreading to the outer muscular walls of the bladder and becomes invasive.
- Stage III: The invasive nature of cancer starts spreading to the fatty tissues that surround your bladder.
- Stage IV: Finally, cancer has spread enough to infect the nearby lymph nodes and organs as well (metastasized).
Main Symptoms Of Bladder Cancer
The main bladder cancer symptoms that you should look out for are:
- Hematuria: This is a condition where the blood comes out along with your pee. Hematuria is one of the most easily recognizable signs of bladder cancer.
- Dysuria: Here, you feel lots of pain while peeing. You will feel a stinging or burning sensation while you pee, or you might feel it after peeing.
- Frequent Urination: If you’re peeing more than what you usually do and also have any of the two symptoms above, you might be suffering from bladder cancer. Sometimes, you might feel like peeing even just after you do so.
- Bladder Infections: Many bladder infections can have the same symptoms as above that might signify cancer as well. Therefore, bladder infections with cancer are very much possible.
What Causes Bladder Cancer?
Many things can cause the formation of tumors in your bladder.
- Smoking: Smoking is the sole cause of more than half the types of cancer. Tobacco smoke contains lots of carcinogens that can cause tumor growth in almost every organ of your body. It’s also the sole cause of lung cancer.
- Bladder Infections: Bladder infections can create various complications, like mutating infected cells. These mutated cells soon start growing abnormally to develop tumors that cause cancer. In addition, suffering from
- Exposure to Radiation: Exposure to specific radiations can cause the development of cancerous cells in your bladder and other organs as well.
- Chronic Catheter users: People who have already suffered from bladder-related diseases before might need the help of a catheter. Here, these people run the risk of developing cancer due to its frequent use.
- Chemical exposure: Exposure to certain hazardous substances in factories and construction sites can lead to bladder cancer.
How To Diagnose Bladder Cancer?
There are various tests that you can do to diagnose bladder cancer, which are as follows:
- Urinalysis: In this test, your urine is tested in a lab to find the presence of cancerous cells and find infections.
- Cytology: In this examination, a pathologist will examine a sample of your tissue. Here, your body tissue is tested under a microscope to identify all possible cancerous elements.
- Cystopsy: In cystoscopy, a cystoscope is inserted inside your bladder. It is a slim device that is the size of an average pencil. Surgically, it is inserted inside your bladder or urethra to check for tumors using fluorescent dyes and blue lights.
- Scans: Various types of scans, like chest x-rays, MRI scans, CT scans, and more.
Bladder Cancer Treatment
There are many ways to treat bladder cancer. The main ways of treating this type of cancer are:
Surgically removing your tumor using TURBT (Transurethral resection of bladder tumor) is the most common way to treat bladder cancer. This surgical procedure acts as a form of diagnosis and as a treatment for bladder cancer at the same time. This can only used if the tumor is still in Stage I or Stage II, as long as it has not spread to nearby tissues and organs.
Another procedure here is Radical Cystectomy. This treatment as a last-ditch effort that entirely removes your bladder surgically. In addition, this surgery might also remove your other nearby affected organs where cancer has metastasized.
Chemotherapy still is one of the most common ways to treat the growth of cancerous tumors in your body. Here, certain medicines pass directly into your bloodstream to prevent cancer from increasing in size anymore.
In immunotherapy, certain medications make your immune system more sensitive to cancerous cells. This causes it to attack these cells directly and stop its spread. There are two types of immunotherapy. These two types are:
- BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin): The BCG vaccine makes your immune system identify cancerous blood cells effortlessly. This makes it target these cells aggressively.
- Protein Inhibitor Therapy: When you suffer from cancer, two types of proteins come in contact with each other. One is the PD-1 protein (a core part of your immunity system) and PD-L1 cells (present in cancerous cells). This therapy is used to prevent these two from coming in contact, which makes it easier for T-cells (cells of your immunity system that attacks infections) to target the cancerous cells and destroy them.
4. Radiation Therapy
In this treatment, certain forms of radiation are passed through your bladder tumor to prevent it from spreading anymore. Many times, this is used in conjunction with chemotherapy and TURBT surgery. However, this is only used in specific scenarios.
5. Targeted Therapy
In targeted therapy, special medicines are used to treat cancer at a genetic level. This form of treatment is rarely used. For example, the FGFR gene inhibitor drugs help in targeting cells that have genetically changed, which makes it easier for cancerous cells to grow.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
People have various questions related to bladder cancer. Here are my answers to their questions:
Ans: If you are suffering from bladder cancer, then you can expect yourself to pee a lot less. In addition, since you are weak due to cancer, you will feel extremely fatigued all the time.
Ans: This answer depends on the stage of cancer. In stages I and II, the 5-year survival rate is 90% to 96%. However, if it’s already reached stages III and IV, then the survival rate drops to 77%.
Ans: When it comes to risk factors, people who are heavy smokers are at the most risk. In addition, people suffering from obesity and older than 55 are at risk too. Also, it has been seen that men are more susceptible to bladder cancer compared to women.
Bladder cancer is a hazardous disease that can spread quickly if it’s not treated early on. Some of its earliest symptoms are pain and blood while urinating. This disease can be treated using surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy in most cases. To prevent bladder cancer, it’s best not to smoke and lead a healthy lifestyle.