Bladder cancer is characterized by the growth of an abnormal tissue in the lining of your urinary bladder. It starts when the cells in your urinary bladder start growing uncontrollably. As the cancer cells start developing, they might take the shape of a tumor and spread to other parts of your body.
As the cancer eventually grows through the layers of your bladder walls, it becomes advanced and more difficult to treat. If not treated in due time, the cancer might even grow outside your bladder and spread to the nearby muscles. Blood in your urine, pain while urinating, constant urge for urination, fatigue, and abdominal pain, are some of the most common symptoms of this cancer. In the following section, we will give you a detailed insight on bladder cancer, its causes, symptoms and the facts that you should know about it.
Types of bladder cancer
Cell Carcinoma is probably the most common type of bladder cancer. This begins from the urothelial cells that form the inner lining of our urinary bladders. The Urothelial cells are transitional in nature, which means that they can change their structure and stretch when the bladder is completely full. Also known as urothelial carcinoma, this cancer can be treated with adequate chemotherapy sessions and medication. Cancer might also begin in the thinner and flatter cells of the bladder lining. This type of cancer is known as the squamous cell carcinoma. Adenocarcinoma is a similar type of bladder cancer that releases mucus and other fluids. Although bladder cancer is classified in three types, 7 out of 10 people are affected by cell carcinoma. The other two types are relatively rare.
Non-invasive and invasive bladder cancer
Bladder cancer is usually treated at the non-invasive stage, or the early stage, where the carcinogenic cells are found only in the bladder surface and when they haven’t spread elsewhere. The cancer takes a bigger shape in the invasive stage, where it spreads deeper to the bladder. In this stage, it might also spread to the adjoining organs from the wall of the bladder.
Blood in urine is the most common symptom of bladder cancer
One of the most common symptoms of bladder cancer is blood in urine. Although, in most cases, it is distinctly visible to the naked eye, there might be situations where it does not seem to be visible and is only identified when your doctor takes a sample of your urine. The blood in urine, as a result of bladder cancer, is usually red, pink or rusty in color.
Other symptoms include frequent urinary infections that cannot be treated by antibiotics, pain while urinating, getting a constant urge for urination, fatigue, moderate to severe pain in the abdominal area, sudden weight loss, pain in the lower back and incontinence. If you experience either one or more of these symptoms, consult a doctor immediately. Overlooking the symptoms and ignoring these clear signs might take the cancer to a bigger shape where there will be more complications in treatment.
Usually occurs in elderly people
Although anyone who smoke or are in direct contact with deadly chemical substances are, likely to be affected by bladder cancer, it usually occurs in elderly people. 9 out of 10 people affected by this cancer are above the age of 55. The average age for diagnosing and treating this cancer is 73. It has also been observed that men are three to four times more likely to be affected by this cancer in their lifetime, compared to women. On general note, the possibility of men developing this cancer in their lifetime is about 1 in 26. However, the same figure is 1 in 90 for women. This, however, is a general study and the causes of bladder cancer are directly associated with its risk factors.
Smoking is the biggest cause of bladder cancer
By far, one of the biggest causes of bladder cancer is smoking. So it is highly recommended for people to give up smoking, if they haven’t done so yet. Leaving smoking at an early or moderate stage can help in your recovery. It has also been seen that bladder cancer is probably the only type of cancer that becomes relatively less aggressive when you give up smoking. Besides smoking, fumes from the diesel and certain toxic industrial dyes and chemicals are said to be the other causes of this cancer. If you experienced chronic bladder infections in the past, then too, the risk factor of getting affected by this cancer is high. In certain cases, the causes cannot be identified in the first place, because not much is known about this ailment.
Extent of bladder cancer during diagnosis
It has been observed that about half of all the bladder cancers were detected while the tumor was still confined to the inner lining of the bladder wall. Only 1 in 3 bladder cancers have invaded into the deeper layers. But then too, they were primarily confined to the bladder. In the remaining cases, the cancer spread to the adjoining lymph nodes and tissues, located just outside the bladder. But this is highly rare, as it has only been observed in 4% of the cases. It has been seen that black patients have a greater possibility of being affected by bladder cancer, when compared to the whites.
Treatment of bladder cancer
The slow growing bladder cancer, also known as the low grade cancer, is treated by scraping the cancer from the interior sections of the bladder by involving the Transurethral Resection of Bladder Tumor procedure. It is a localized form of chemotherapy and is slowly injected into the bladder for killing the cancerous cells in the inner linings of the bladder. This is the most common treatment for about 70 of the patients. Fast growing bladder cancer, also known the high grade cancer is treated by involving the BCG in the bladder (if detected at early stage). However, the fast growing tumors that have already managed to invade the walls of the urinary bladder are treated by removal of the bladder (cystectomy) or radiotherapy. Chemotherapy is used in these situations. Also, most patients manage to lead a healthy life even after the removal of bladder. However, despite the ease of treatment, one should never overlook the signs of this cancer and consult a doctor immediately on finding one or more of the symptoms.