Bladder Cancer

The most common form of bladder cancer starts in the organ's innermost tissue layer. The lining of the bladder is constantly in contact with carcinogens that enter the bloodstream and get filtered through the kidneys.

When bladder cancer spreads to nearby organs and lymph nodes, the disease is considered invasive. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy can all be treatment options, depending on the severity of this cancer.

What is bladder cancer?

The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower part of the abdomen that stores urine to be passed out of the body. The most common form of bladder cancer starts in cells within the innermost tissue layer of the bladder. When cancer in the lining of the bladder spreads to nearby organs and lymph nodes, it is considered invasive.

Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men and the eighth most common cancer in women.

What are the risks of bladder cancer?

No single factor is directly connected to bladder cancer, but factors that can increase the risk include:

  • Age : Bladder cancer typically affects people age 55 and older.
  • Smoking : Carcinogens from tobacco smoke come in contact with the lining of the bladder. Smokers are three times as likely as non-smokers to get bladder cancer.
  • Family history: There is evidence that bladder cancer may have a genetic component.
  • Industrial chemical s: Chemicals known as aromatic amines are often used in the dye industry. Workers who have daily exposure to them, such as painters, machinists and hairdressers, may be at a higher risk for bladder cancer.
  • Taking certain herb: Supplements such as Aristolochia fangchi, a Chinese herb, sometimes used for weight loss has been linked to higher rates of bladder cancer.

What are the symptoms of bladder cancer?

The early stages of bladder cancer can be difficult to recognize, but early symptoms include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain during urination
  • Lower back pain

How is bladder cancer diagnosed?

Bladder cancer is typically diagnosed by going through the patient’s health history and checking for physical signs of the disease. A urine sample may be taken and checked for abnormal cells. In some cases, a cystoscope—a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing—may be inserted through the urethra into the bladder to take a tissue sample.

What are the most common treatments for bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer is highly treatable when it is diagnosed in the early stages. The main types of treatments for bladder cancer include:

  • Surgery : Bladder cancer treatment almost always has a surgical component that may be combined with other non-invasive approaches, including those listed below.
  • Intravesical chemotherapy : In this targeted treatment, chemotherapy drugs are injected directly into the bladder.
  • Traditional chemotherapy : The above approaches may be combined with traditional or systemic chemotherapy, which works to kill cancer cells throughout the entire body. It also heightens the effectiveness of radiation treatments.
  • Radiation therapy : In radiation therapy, high-energy radiation is used to kill cancer cells. In the case of bladder cancer, the most common form of radiation therapy used is external beam focus radiation in which a beam outside the body is focused on the cancer much like in a traditional X-ray. Radiation can also be used to spare a patient from surgery and preserve bladder.