Bladder cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers globally. It is a condition in which cancer develops from the tissues of the bladder. The bladder is an organ that stores urine, from the kidney, that is set to be passed out from the body. The cancerous cells in the bladder have the ability to spread from the bladder to other parts of the body. Some of the signs and symptoms of this disease include blood in the urine, discomfort when urinating, pain in the back, especially the lower back and so on. The primary cause of this disease is not known yet. However, it occurs when there is a mutation in the genes that control the growth of the bladder cells. The mutation causes the cells of the bladder to grow rapidly, and uncontrollably. They also attain a certain level of immortality, as they don’t die. Some of the factors that have been associated with the development of bladder cancer include smoking, exposure to toxins, chemicals, prolonged and frequent exposure to radiations, prolonged irritation of the bladder lining, infections and so on. There are different types of bladder cancer, and some of them include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and so on. Physicians diagnose this disease by carrying out a biopsy. This is done through cystoscopy. Other methods that are used in diagnosing the disease include medical imaging like CT scan, bone scan and so on. The treatment of the disease largely of depends on the staging and severity of the disease. Some of the ways of treating bladder cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and so on. The average survival rate of this disease is 5 years. Researchers are working on ways to make shockwave an effective way of improving the symptoms of the disease.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Bladder Cancer?
Persons affected with bladder cancer do present with symptoms that mostly affect urination. Below are some of the signs and symptoms:
- Haematuria: This is a condition in which an individual has blood in their urine. The urine may appear bright red, or coca cola colored. There have also been cases where the urine doesn’t look different from the eyes. However, an examination under the microscope would show that the urine has blood in it. Haematuria is one of the most common symptoms in persons affected with bladder cancer. Blood in the urine can also be caused by other conditions. Examples of these conditions include renal diseases, renal cancer, infection, ureteric stones and so on. Haematuria occurs in almost all bladder cancer patients.
- Discomfort when urinating: Persons affected with bladder cancer do experience a lot of pain when urinating. Asides from this, they also tend to urinate more often. Other symptoms presented by patients that are associated with urination include the urination urgency. It’s important to know that these symptoms are not peculiar to just bladder cancer. There are other diseases that also present with these symptoms. Examples of these diseases include prostate infections, overactive bladder, cystitis, and so on.
- Pelvic pain: Patients at the advanced stage of the disease do often present with pain in the pelvis, especially in the pelvic bone. Other symptoms that are associated with this include swelling of the lower-extremity swelling, pain in the flanks and so on. Physicians usually can palpate a mass during the physical examination of the patient.
- Development of stones: Patients affected with bladder cancer are more prone to developing kidney stones. This tends to occur more in old patients. The formation of stones mostly occurs in the bladder and ureter. Patients might also develop infections in the other components of the urinary systems such as in the kidney.
What Are The Causes Of Bladder Cancer?
Bladder cancer occurs when there is a mutation in the genes that control the growth of bladder cells. The mutation causes the bladder cells to grow rapidly and without control. Also, the cancer cells do not die. Below are some of the factors that contribute to the development of bladder cancer:
- Smoking: Smoking has no benefit to human Studies have shown that a stick of cigarette contains about 64 carcinogens. Smokers have a high risk of developing this disease.
- Exposure to radiations: People who regularly gets exposed to radiations for long periods of time, and frequently have a high risk of developing bladder cancer.
- Obesity: Excess weight and obesity are also one of the causes of bladder carcinoma.
- It’s important to note that some people do develop bladder carcinoma without having any of the above risk factors.
- Exposure to chemicals: The exposure to toxins and certain chemicals such as insecticides, pesticides increases the risk of developing bladder cancer.
- Irritation of the bladder cancer: The prolonged irritation of the lining of the bladder could also lead to the development of bladder cancer.
- Infections: People who suffer from infections, especially those that affect the bladder have a high risk of developing bladder cancer. Parasitic infections are one of the most common causes of this.
What Are The Types Of Bladder Cancer?
There are different types of cells in the bladder that can develop into malignant cells. Basically, the type of cell that turns malignant will determine the type of bladder cancer the patient will have. Below are the types of cancer;
- Urothelial carcinoma: The urothelial carcinoma used to be referred to as the transitional cell carcinoma. The transitional cells line the ureter and the urethra, meaning that tumors can develop in these places as well. Urothelial carcinoma is one of the most common cancers, especially in the United States of America.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: This occurs when there is a prolonged irritation of the bladder. As an illustration, the long-term use of urinary catheters can lead to conditions such as infections
- Adenocarcinoma: This tumor develops in the mucus-secreting glands of the bladder
Treatment Of Bladder Cancer
There are several approaches to the treatment of bladder carcinoma. These ranges from surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy. The kind of method your doctor would suggest depends entirely on the stage of cancer.
Bladder cancer: diagnosis and management of bladder cancer. (2017). BJU International, 120(6), pp.755-765.
National Cancer Institute. (2018). Bladder Cancer. [online] Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/bladder [Accessed 12 Mar. 2018].