Bladder Cancer - Health Center

Bladder Cancer

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Bladder Cancer

Bladder Cancer: Basic Overview

Bladder Cancer is a kind of cancer which begins in the urinary bladder – a small, balloon shaped organ which is found in the pelvic area and stores the urine. Bladder Cancer usually begins in the cells which line along the urinary bladder and affects adults more than children.

Urinary Bladder Cancers which tend to be diagnosed at the early stages can be treated easily. However, at the later stages, the cancer can reoccur. Due to this reason, it is recommended that regular follow up tests should be done in order to check and contain the chances of reoccurrence of the cancer.  

Causes of Bladder Cancer:

The main reason for the occurrence of Bladder Cancer is unclear. However, smoking, parasitic infections, radiation as well as chemical exposures are known to be major trigger factors in causing the disease. Bladder Cancer generally occurs when the cells in the urinary bladder tend to grow abnormally. These cells often develop mutations which can cause the cells to grow out of control abnormally, causing the formation of a tumour.

Smokers suffer from twice as much risk of suffering from Bladder Cancer as compared to non smokers. Exposure to chemicals such as dyes, paints, dust, leather fumes and others too are known to trigger the formation of bladder cancer.

Kinds of Bladder Cancers:

Since there are different kinds of cells which are found in the bladder. Hence, the possibility of them to become cancerous is tremendous. The kind of bladder cell where the cancer is found, determines the kind of cancer.

The following are the major kinds of Bladder Cancer:

  1. Transitional Cell Carcinoma: This kind of cancer occurs in the cells lining the inside of the bladder. Transitional cells are known to expand when the bladder is full and then contract when the bladder is empty. These cells also line the inside of the uterus and the urethra.
  2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Squamous cells are found in the bladder in order to fight any infections or any irritation. Over the course of time, these cells can become cancerous.
  3. Adenocarcinoma: This kind of cancer begins in the cells which are responsible for secreting mucous. Adenocarcinoma is one of the rarest forms of cancer.

Signs or Symptoms of Bladder Cancer:

The following are the major signs and symptoms of Bladder Cancer:

  • Passing of blood in the urine: Hematuria is a condition in which the urine may appear bright red or cola coloured due to the presence of the blood in the urine.
  • Painful Urination
  • Frequent Urination
  • Back Pain
  • Pain in the pelvic area

It is recommended to seek an appointment with the doctor if you have been observing the above mentioned signs or symptoms. 

Tests and Diagnosis of Bladder Cancer:

The following are the tests and diagnostic procedures for the diagnosis of Bladder Cancer:

  1. Cystoscopy: During this procedure, the doctor inserts a narrow tube (cystoscope) through the urethra into the body of the patient. This tube contains a lens which is attached which allows the doctors to see the inside of the bladder.
  2. Biopsy: During Cystoscopy, a special tool is passed via the cystoscope into the bladder in order to collect a small sample of the bladder. This procedure is commonly known as TUR (Transurethral resection).
  3. Urine Cytology: In this, a sample of the urine is analyzed in order to check for the presence of the cancer cells in the sample.
  4. Imaging Tests: Imaging tests such CT or MRI Scans are used extensively in order to view the inside of the urinary bladder for any signs or abnormalities.

Stages of Bladder Cancer:

Once it has been confirmed that a person is suffering from Bladder Cancer, it is essential to determine the stage of the cancer in order to look for the right treatment option. The staging is done with the help of the following tests:

  •       CT scans
  •       MRI Scans
  •       Bone Scans
  •       X Rays

The following are the stages of the cancer:

  1. Stage 1: At this stage, the cancer is found in the inner walls of the bladder only.
  2. Stage 2: At this stage, the cancer has invaded the muscles of the bladder wall.
  3. Stage 3: At this stage, the cancer has spread from the bladder wall to the surrounding tissues around the bladder. Also, in men it has spread to the prostate gland and in women, it has spread to the vagina.
  4. Stage 4: At this stage, the cancer has spread to the nearby lymph nodes or other organs such as the lungs, bones or the liver. 

Treatment and Drugs for Bladder Cancer:

The treatments of Bladder Cancer are greatly dependent on the stage as well as the kind of the cancer. The following are the major treatment options against the cancer:

  1. Surgical Treatments:  TUR Surgery is used extensively for the treatment of the cancers which are restricted to the bladder. However, segmental cystectomy is used for removing the tumour as well as a little bit of the bladder if the cancer has spread to one part of the bladder.
  2. Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a procedure in which the immune system of the body fights against the cancer cells. This is also known as Biological therapy. Immune stimulating bacterium such as BCG and Interferon alfa-2b (a synthetic version of the immune system protein) are used to fight against the cancers.
  3. Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy makes use of drugs in order to kill the cancer cells. Often, one or two cancer drugs are used in a combination in order to kill the cells or to shrink them.
  4. Radiation Therapy: Radiation Therapy uses high energy beams in order to destroy the cancer cells. Radiation Therapy directs the beams to certain points in the body in order to kill the cancer cells. Radiation Therapy is used in combination with Chemotherapy. 
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