Bladder cancer is one of the most common cancers. It occurs more frequently in men than it does in women and usually affects older adults, though it can happen at any age.
Bladder cancer most often begins in the cells (urothelial cells) that line the inside of the bladder — the hollow, muscular organ in the lower abdomen that stores urine. Although it’s most common in the bladder, this same type of cancer can occur in other parts of the urinary tract drainage system.
Types of Bladder Cancer
There are three types of bladder cancer;
- Transitional Cell Carcinoma – it is the most common type of bladder cancer. It begins in the transitional cells in the inner layer of the bladder. Transitional cells are cells that change shape without becoming damaged when the tissue is stretched.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma – it is a rare cancer. It begins when thin, flat squamous cells form in the bladder after a long-term infection or irritation in the bladder.
- Adenocarcinoma – also a rare cancer. It begins when glandular cells form in the bladder after long-term irritation and inflammation. Glandular cells are what make up the mucus-secreting glands in the body.
Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
Bladder Cancer signs and symptoms may include:
- Painful urination
- Pelvic pain
- Blood in urine (hematuria)
If a person has hematuria, their urine may appear bright red or cola colored. Sometimes, urine may not look any different, but blood in urine may be detected during a microscopic exam of the urine.
People with bladder cancer might also experience:
- Back pain
- Frequent urination
The exact cause of bladder cancer is unknown. It occurs when abnormal cells grow and multiply quickly and uncontrollably, and invade other tissues.
The doctor may diagnose bladder cancer using one or more of the following methods;
- Internal examination, which involves the doctor inserting gloved fingers into the vagina or rectum to feel for lumps that may indicate a cancerous growth
- Cystoscopy, the doctor will insert a narrow tube that has a small camera on it to through the urethra to see inside the bladder
- Biopsy, the doctor will insert a small tool through the urethra and take a small sample of tissue from the bladder to test for cancer
- CT scan to view the bladder
- Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
Treatment options for bladder cancer depend on a number of factors, including the type of cancer, grade of the cancer and stage of the cancer, which are taken into consideration along with your overall health and your treatment preferences.
Bladder cancer treatment may include:
- Chemotherapy in the bladder (intravesical chemotherapy)
- Chemotherapy for the whole body (systemic chemotherapy)
- Radiation therapy
A combination of treatment approaches may be recommended by your doctor and members of your care team.
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