What is Bladder Cancer?
Bladder cancer occurs when the cells that line the inside of your bladder start to grow at an abnormally high rate. Over time, they can form a tumor and spread outside the bladder and to other parts of the body. Bladder cancer is one of the most common cancers, and affects approximately 68,000 adults in the United States each year. Although it can happen at any age, it tends to affect older adults and occurs more frequently in men.
What are the Symptoms?
Bladder cancer signs and symptoms may include:
- Blood in urine (hematuria)
- Painful urination
- Pelvic pain
What are the Causes?
While it’s not clear exactly what causes most bladder cancers, there are some risk factors that may contribute to bladder cancer, including:
- Smoking – smokers are at least 3 times as likely to get bladder cancer as non-smokers
- Exposure to Chemicals in the Workplace – Chemicals linked to bladder cancer risk include arsenic and chemicals used in the manufacture of dyes, rubber, leather, textiles and paint products.
- Previous cancer treatment – People who have previously received radiation treatments aimed at the pelvis for a previous cancer have an elevated risk of developing bladder cancer.
- Chronic irritation of the lining of the bladder – Chronic or repeated urinary infections or inflammations (cystitis), such as might happen with long-term use of a urinary catheter, may increase the risk of a squamous cell bladder cancer.
- Race and ethnicity – white people have a greater of risk of bladder cancer.
- Age – bladder cancer risk increases as you age, and typically occurs in people over 40.
- Genetics – If you’ve had bladder cancer in the past, you’re more likely to get it again. Although it’s rare for bladder cancer to run in families, if one of your first-degree relatives (parent, sibling or child) has a history of bladder cancer, you may have an increased risk of the disease.
What are the Treatments?
There are a number of treatment options for bladder cancer that range from surgery to several types of chemotherapy. Determining the best option depends on a number of factors, including your overall health, the type of cancer, grade of the cancer and stage of the cancer.
Bladder cancer treatment may include:
- Surgery, to remove cancerous tissue
- Chemotherapy in the bladder (intravesical chemotherapy), to treat tumors that are confined to the lining of the bladder but have a high risk of recurrence or progression to a higher stage.
- Reconstruction, to create a new way for urine to exit the body after bladder removal.
- Chemotherapy for the whole body (systemic chemotherapy), to increase the chance for a cure in a person having surgery to remove the bladder, or as a primary treatment in cases where surgery is not an option.
- Radiation therapy, to destroy cancer cells. This is often as a primary treatment in cases where surgery is not an option or is not desired.
- Immunotherapy, to trigger the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells, either in the bladder or throughout the body.
Your doctor and members of your care team may recommend a combination of treatment approaches.
Find out more about bladder cancer treatments by calling Signature Urology Specialists today at (818) 643-2333 or booking an appointment online