About Bladder Cancer

When genetic mutations cause bladder cells to grow and multiply uncontrollably, it causes bladder cancer. The most commonly occurring bladder cancer arises from the cells that line the bladder (called the urothelial cells). Since bladder cancers are usually detected early, they are often treatable. The 5-year survival or bladder cancer life expectancy five years after diagnosis is 77%. Less than 4% of people are diagnosed with advanced or stage 4 bladder cancer, which spreads to other parts of the body. Bladder cancer generally occurs in older people over 55 years of age. Men are four times more likely to develop the condition than women. The exact cause of bladder cancer is unknown. However, many factors like smoking, tobacco use, increasing age, race, exposure to chemicals, and chronic bladder problems can increase your risk of developing the condition. The exact cause of bladder cancer is unknown. However, many factors like smoking, tobacco use, increasing age, race, exposure to chemicals, and chronic bladder problems can increase your risk of developing the condition. substances that lead to abnormal changes in the bladder’s cells over the course of many years.

Symptoms

Blood in the urine is the most common symptom of bladder cancer. In fact, most patients diagnosed with bladder cancer visit their doctor with a complaint of dark urine or a significant amount of blood in the urine, usually without any pain.

 

Other symptoms of bladder cancer include:

  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Constant urge to urinate
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Pelvic pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Backache and occasional bone pain

 

Finding blood in urine is not conclusive of bladder cancer as it may occur in many other conditions. So, if you notice darker, discoloured urine or see blood in urine, visit your doctor immediately.

Diagnosis

A routine urine test acts as a screening test for bladder cancer. Further tests that help confirm a diagnosis of bladder cancer include cystoscopy (a cystoscope is inserted into the urethra to visualise inside the bladder), urine cytology and a biopsy. Imaging tests may also be advised to help determine the tumour’s location. These diagnostic tests give your oncologist an idea about how to treat bladder cancer.

 

Once bladder cancer has been diagnosed, it is classified based on the appearance of cells during microscopic analysis and the extent of their spread. Based on where cancer originated, bladder cancer can be of three types:

 

  • Urothelial carcinoma
  • Squamous cells carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma

 

Based on the extent of spread, bladder cancer can be of three types:

  • Non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer (early stage)– the most common type of bladder cancer
  • Muscle-invasive bladder cancer (high chance of spreading)– severe but less common
  • Metastatic or Stage 4 bladder cancer– the most advanced stage of cancer

Treatment

Bladder cancer treatment options depend upon the type and origin of cancer, the extent of its spread, the patient’s age, and overall health. Non-muscle-invasive cancers are usually treated surgically, during which the entire cancerous portion is removed, leaving the bladder intact. In muscle-invasive bladder cancer, the whole bladder may be removed to prevent the spread or recurrence of the tumour.

 

Localised chemotherapy may be given to treat localised bladder cancers with a high chance of recurrence. Systemic chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy are used as an adjuvant after surgery or in cases where surgery is not possible or practical.

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