The bladder is a balloon-shaped hollow organ located in the lower abdomen, which collects urine and disposes it off via the urethra. The bladder can develop cancer like any other part of the body. Researchers estimate that bladder cancer is more common in the developed countries such as the United States and France.
There are certain risk factors that lead to bladder cancer though physicians and researchers are not wholly sure about what causes it. Race and gender are listed as two risk factors as Caucasians and men are more likely to develop this type of cancer. And of course if there is a family history of this type of cancer then you are more than likely to develop it. The other factors have to do with inhaling second hand smoke or smoking yourself; a diet that is high in saturated fat; and recurring urinary tract infections or urinary stones. Exposure to chemicals if you are working in a leather or chemical or rubber factory can be a possible risk factor.
Bladder cancer cells develop in the inside lining of the bladder. Like any cancer the cells grow and multiply until they form a tumor. Most bladder cancers start in the transitional cells of the bladder. There are also the squamous cell cancer and bladder adinocarcinoma.
Bladder cancer shows up early as its symptoms are easily recognizable. Blood in the urine is a wake up call for this type of cancer. Known as hamaturia, it may be visible to the naked eye or it may be detected during a routine test. If you have feel a frequent urge to urinate and also feel pain during urination then you must consult a doctor so that a proper diagnosis is made and you can start on the appropriate treatment. While these symptoms might indicate any other illness, such as kidney stones or a bladder infection, you must rule out bladder cancer with certain tests.
Your physician will delve into your medical history, perform medical tests, and ask you to undergo x-rays, blood tests and particular tests of the urinary organs. A urine culture is a must to detect infection, while urine cytology may be carried out to detect cancer cells. You may have to undergo a cytoscopy so that the doctor can check the inside of your bladder—in this procedure a lighted tube with a camera is inserted into the bladder. A biopsy may also be performed where some tissue samples are taken to check for cancer. You may also be asked to take a CT scan, an MRI, or X-rays so the doctor can have an overall picture of the extent of the cancer.
Bladder cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy or a combination of these treatments. Your physician will suggest a treatment based on your age and medical history and the extent to which the cancer has spread. If the tumor has not spread beyond the bladder wall the tumor and the affected part of the bladder can be removed. If the spread of the cancer is more extensive then surgeons will perform a radical cystectomy. If the entire bladder is removed then provision will be made for the draining of the urine by attaching a flat, watertight, replaceble bag to side of the abdomen, which will have to be emptied regularly.
Research is ongoing to improve the treatment of bladder cancer. You can take part in clinical trials to enhance the knowledge in this area and contribute to helping future treatments of patients with this cancer.
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