About Bladder Cancer

By Dr. Coco

January 17, 2023

Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that affects the urinary bladder, which is the organ responsible for storing and releasing urine. It is one of the most common types of cancer in people, accounting for about 5% of all cancers in adults. Bladder cancer can be classified into two main types: transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). TCC is the more common type and usually affects older individuals. SCC is rarer but tends to be more aggressive.

The exact cause of bladder cancer is not known, but certain factors may increase a person’s risk. These include smoking, exposure to certain chemicals or dyes, long-term use of certain medications, or having a family history of bladder cancer. Other risk factors include being male, being over age 50, having a weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS or chemotherapy treatments, and having had radiation therapy to the pelvis area.

The symptoms of bladder cancer vary depending on the stage of the disease. In early stages, there may be no symptoms at all; however, as it progresses symptoms may include blood in the urine (hematuria), pain during urination (dysuria), frequent urination (frequency), and an urgent need to urinate (urgency). Other signs may include lower back pain or bone pain if the cancer has spread beyond the bladder walls.

Diagnosis typically begins with a physical exam and medical history followed by laboratory tests such as a complete blood count (CBC) and urinalysis. Imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and ultrasound are also used to help diagnose bladder cancer. A cystoscopy—a procedure where a thin tube with a camera attached is inserted through the urethra into the bladder—is done to confirm diagnosis and evaluate how far into the wall of the bladder tumor has grown.

Treatment for bladder cancer depends on how advanced it is; options range from surgery to chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Surgery can involve either removing part or all of the bladder (cystectomy) or inserting stents into it to keep it open while other treatments are given (endoscopic resection). Chemotherapy drugs are used to kill any remaining tumor cells after surgery while radiation therapy uses high-energy rays directed at tumors in order to shrink them down or destroy them completely.

Bladder cancer can be life threatening if not caught early enough; however with early detection and proper treatment outcomes tend to be positive with many patients going on to live healthy lives afterwards. It’s important for individuals at risk for this type of cancer—especially those over 50 years old—to get regular checkups so that any problems can be identified quickly before they become more serious issues down the line.