The urinary bladder is an organ in the body which stores urine before being released.
Bladder cancer is an uncontrolled abnormal growth and multiplication of cells in the urinary bladder, which have broken free from the normal mechanisms that keep uncontrolled cell growth in check.
There are three main types of bladder cancer:
- Urothelial carcinoma: 95% of bladder cancer diagnosis
- Squamous cell carcinoma
Hematuria is the most common first symptom and is the medical term for blood in your urine. Patients may simply notice streaks of blood in your urine or that their urine is brown as a result of the blood. Hematuria could be painless or painful.
Other symptoms are:
- Needing to urinate more frequently
- Sudden urges to urinate
- A burning sensation when passing urine
- Pelvic pain
It is important to note that in some cases, colour of urine may not change even when blood is present, and the presence of blood can only be detected under a microscope.
Smoking of Cigarettes has now recently recognized as the major cause of bladder cancer.
There are other risk factors which have been linked to bladder cancer.
- Men are more likely to have bladder cancer than women.
- White people are at greater risk of bladder cancer than people of other races.
- Smokers are 4 to 7 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than nonsmokers
- The chances of being diagnosed with bladder cancer increases with age
- Exposure to toxic chemicals increases risk of bladder cancer
- Bladder stones and infections may increase the risk of bladder cancer.
- Bladder cancer may be more common for people who are paralyzed from the waist down who are required to use urinary catheters and have had many urinary infections.
TESTS FOR BLADDER CANCER
If you are experiencing the above symptoms, you should visit your family doctor. Your doctor will most likely order the following test to determine the cause for your symptoms and also refer to a specialist known as a Urologist for further assessment;
- Urine cytology
- CT scan/MRI
- Cystoscopy and biopsy
Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy, Surgery, Drug Therapy and Immunotherapy are all treatment options for bladder cancer. The selection of treatment is made by the doctor based on the type of bladder cancer the patient has, how far it has spread throughout the bladder, the speed at which tumors are developing and the overall health of the patients.
Currently there is no screening method for detecting bladder cancer before symptoms are experienced.
However, reducing risk factors and adopting a healthy lifestyle can help with preventive measures such as avoiding cigarette smoking, caution around chemicals and choosing a diet rich in a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
It is important that if you experience the symptoms above to visit your doctor because bladder cancer diagnosed early enough has a higher rate of being successfully treated.
Bladder Cancer – Treatment Options. (2018,July10). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/bladder-cancer/treatment-options
Bladder cancer.(2017,December22). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bladder-cancer/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20356109
Bladder cancer. (2017, December 22). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bladder-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20356104
Bladder Cancer – Risk Factors. (2018, March 15). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/bladder-cancer/risk-factors\