The bladder is a hollow organ in the human body that stores urine. On the inside, the bladder is lined by urothelial cells; these cells are also found in the kidneys. Bladder cancer is the condition where these urothelial cells in the bladder become affected by cancerous cells.
Urothelial cancer can also occur in the kidneys and the ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder). However, it is most commonly observed to occur in the bladder.
One of the most tell-tale signs you observe if affected by bladder cancer is the appearance of blood in your urine.
Bladder cancer is the condition where the urothelial cells (cells that line the inside of the uterus) experience unchecked growth. If left untreated, this cancerous growth can grow into bladder tumours and spread to other parts of the urinary system, like ureters and kidneys.
There are five distinct types of cancerous conditions of the bladder:
- Urothelial carcinoma is the most common type of bladder cancer. It begins in the urothelial cells and can spread if left untreated.
- Squamous cell carcinoma is not very common. This type of bladder cancer affects the squamous layer of the skin in the bladder and can cause irritation.
- Adenocarcinoma is rare type of bladder cancer. It affects that glandular portion of the bladder.
- Small cell carcinoma begins in the neuroendocrine cells and progresses rapidly. This type of bladder cancer needs chemotherapy to be treated properly.
- Sarcoma is a very rare type of bladder cancer. It begins in the muscular portion of the bladder and needs elaborate treatment.
Bladder cancer is an overwhelming condition to experience. The good news is that early detection and treatment can help completely remove it from your body. Frequent follow-ups are required to check for recurrence; however, this condition is very treatable.
Our bodies are made up of cells. Each cell has its information stored in the DNA which dictates how the cell behaves.
Some cells, however, develop mutations in their DNA and genetic information, causing them to behave abnormally. These cells become cancerous and result in unchecked growth/development.
While a healthy cell would live and die normally according to its lifecycle, a cancerous cell keeps on living and multiplying. Such aggressive growth is harmful to the surrounding tissue as it becomes invasive, destroying the healthy cells that surround the cancerous area.
In bladder cancer, the urothelial cells that develop mutations become cancerous. The common risk factors that could lead to bladder cancer are:
Smoking is the most prevalent risk factor that makes a smoker three times more likely to contract bladder cancer. It is responsible for about half of all bladder cancer cases.
If you are an individual engaged in an industry that deals with chemical substances (whether organic or otherwise), you may be at increased risk of bladder cancer.
Certain chemicals such as beta naphthylamine and benzidine are known to increase bladder cancer risk in patients.
Supplements and medications
Certain supplements and medications may be putting you at an increased risk of bladder cancer.
Using pioglitazone-based drugs to help diabetes and consuming supplements that contain aristolochic acid are known to increase the likelihood of contracting bladder cancer.
Not drinking enough water
Water helps flush out the chemicals and toxins in your body through urine. When you urinate frequently, the carcinogenic substances have little time to affect your body negatively. Not drinking enough water may put you at risk of bladder cancer.
In addition to the risks listed above, bladder cancer may also depend on certain causal factors that can’t be controlled, like age, gender and chronic bladder infections.
Bladder cancer symptoms differ slightly between men and women.
Bladder cancer symptoms women
If you are a woman and notice one or more of the following symptoms, you can contact us for a detailed consultation on bladder cancer:
- Haematuria, which means the appearance of blood in your urine
- Symptoms that resemble UTI infections – incontinence, high frequency of urination and pain during the activity
- Aches and pains in the abdominal and pelvic areas
- Loss of appetite, exhaustion, and weight loss
- If you are post-menopausal and still notice blood or spotting
Bladder cancer symptoms in men
Bladder cancer symptoms in men may look like the following:
- Blood while urinating
- Frequent urge to urinate, stinging or burning sensation during the activity
- Pain on one side of the lower abdomen
- Pain in the bones
- Weight loss, reduced appetite
If you believe a consultation can help you explain these symptoms you are experiencing, you can get in touch with us at any time.
We employ four different methods to detect the presence of bladder cancer in your body:
- Cystoscopy is a method where doctors insert a scope inside your bladder to examine it physically
- A biopsy is a method where the doctors need to extract a tissue from your bladder and examine it under a microscope to spot the presence of cancerous cells. This method is also referred to as Transurethral Resection of Bladder Tumour
- Urine Cytology is a method that involves examining your urine through a collected sample by placing it under a microscope
- Imaging tests are frequently used to “see” what’s happening inside your bladder – using CT urogram or retrograde pyelogram
We use five major types of treatments to remove bladder cancer from your body depending on bladder cancer stages. Frequent follow-ups may be needed to assure that there is no recurrence.
Doctors may perform one of the following surgeries for bladder cancer:
- Partial Cystectomy
- Urinary diversion
- Transurethral Resection
- Radical Cystectomy
Surgery is typically employed for Stage I bladder cancers.
In radiation therapy, the cancerous cells are irradiated with X-Rays that destroy them or stop their growth and propagation. Other kinds of radiation may also be used.
Treatment of cancer by using drugs either taken orally or injected through the veins directly into the bloodstream is known as chemotherapy.
It may be localized and directed straight towards the affected area or may systemically spread throughout the body.
This treatment is also called biologic therapy. It mainly works by reinforcing the body’s immune system to fight against cancerous cells.
Targeted therapy is less harmful to the healthy cells surrounding the cancerous ones. It uses certain drugs that deliver focused treatment to the affected cells only.
Certain changes to your lifestyle can help you reduce your risk and exposure to contracting bladder cancer:
- Quit smoking. Smoking is a cancer hazard. If you need help to stop the addiction, you can consider joining support groups or consult one of our doctors for help.
- Be wary of chemicals. Exposure to chemicals can cause significant damage to your body, in addition to increasing your risk of bladder cancer. Be careful and wear protective clothing around chemical substances
- Eat healthily. Eating a variety of vegetables and fruit can help your body gather the necessary antioxidants needed to keep cancer away
We understand that experiencing symptoms that hint at medical problems can be daunting. To help you navigate your health troubles, we are available on the contact channels listed below, and you can reach out to us any time.
To get the best consultation and insight on bladder cancer, get specialist’s opinion at the CK Birla Hospital.