Bladder Cancer may refer to any type of cancer which affects the inner lining of the urinary bladder. The urinary bladder is primarily affected by cancer of the epithelial lining and rarely is there ever a case of non-epithelial cancer. Bladder Cancer typically affects elderly people, but it can happen to anybody at any age. There are many treatment options available for this type of cancer. However, it is a recurring disease and affected people often require multiple follow up visits for complete treatment.
Causes of Bladder Cancer :
The primary cause of bladder cancer is smoking of tobacco. Half of the cases of bladder cancer in men are caused by smoking tobacco while it constitutes one third of the total cases for women. This is only true for active smoking and passive smokers are not linked to bladder cancer.
Other causes may include infection from parasites or exposure to chemicals. Many workplaces feature a lot of chemical carcinogens including public transport drivers, mechanics, blacksmiths, leather and rubber factory workers and even hairdressers. Thirty percent of the total cases of bladder cancer are caused by exposure to such carcinogens.
Symptoms Of Bladder Cancer :
Some of the symptoms of bladder cancer include:
- Blood or redness in the urine which is painless. This condition is hematuria.
- Pain during urinating.
- Frequent urinating.
- Feeling the false need of urinating.
Signs Of Bladder Cancer :
Detection of perceptible mass is very rare in bladder cancer. Common signs of the disease include:
- Pelvic pain
- Back pain
- Other pain in the bones
- Accumulation of fluid or edema of lower extreme regions
- Flank pain in upper abdomen and back
Tests for Detecting Bladder Cancer :
Some of the common tests and diagnosis procedures for detecting bladder cancer are:
- Cystoscopy : During this process, a tube is inserted into the urethra. This tube, also known as the cystoscope has a lens and a fiber optics which allow doctors to examine the inside of the bladder.
- Biopsy : In this process, a cell sample is collected for testing. Patients are usually made to undergo anesthesia and the sample is collected by passing a special tool into the bladder.
- Urine Cytology : This process requires the collection of a sample of urine which is then analyzed and checked for cancerous cells.
- Imaging Tests : During these tests, a dye is first injected into a vein in the area. X-ray imaging or CT scans are then performed to study the tissues in and around the urinary tract.
Diagnosis of the Disease :
Once the tests have been carefully performed on the patient, doctors perform diagnosis of the staging of the blood cancer if suspected. These staging tests may include MRI scans, chest x-rays, bone scans and CT scans. Bladder cancer has four stages which can be diagnosed. They include:
- First stage : The cancer is only present in the inner lining of the urinary tract
- Second stage : The cancer has spread from the inner lining to the muscular walls of the urinary bladder.
- Third stage : The cancer has spread from the urinary bladder to surrounding tissues.
- Fourth stage : The cancer has spread to other major organs like the lungs and liver and also across lymph nodes.
Prognosis of the Disease :
The outlook for a person diagnosed with bladder cancer is usually based on 5 year relative survival rates. This refers to the percentage of patients diagnosed with the disease who live for at least a minimum of 5 years after being diagnosed. Relative survival rates for different stages of bladder cancer are:
- Undiagnosed – 98%
- First stage – 88%
- Second stage – 63%
- Third stage – 46%
- Fourth stage – 15%
These numbers are based on thousands of people diagnosed with the disease across many years.
Prevention of Bladder Cancer :
The steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of bladder cancer include
- Refraining from smoking
- Taking caution while dealing with chemicals, especially in workplaces
- Eating fruits and vegetables rich in selenium, for example carrots, cruciferous vegetables and citrus fruits
- Drinking a lot of water regularly
However all of these are only precautionary measures and bladder cancer cannot be guaranteed to be prevented.
Types of Bladder Cancer :
There are three major types of Bladder Cancer. These include:
- Urothelial Cell Carcinoma : This is also known as Transitional Cell Carcinoma and cancer begins with the inner epithelial lining of the urinary bladder. This constitutes the primary type of Bladder Cancer.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma : This type of cancer occurs in the flat and thin cells of the bladder and is accompanied with infection and irritation. This type of cancer is primarily due to a parasitic infection.
- Adenocarcinoma : This type of cancer affects the cells which release fluids and mucous in the bladder. This is a much rarer form of Bladder Cancer.
Bladder Cancer is easily diagnosed and can be cured as well. However, it proves to be a recurring disease and patients often require several follow up visits to doctors after the first round of treatment. The frequency and number of visits are determined by the severity of the cancer. On an average, it is recommended that cystoscopy be performed once every three to six months and this should continue for a few years. Later on, the cystoscopy can be undergone once every year.
Bladder Cancer Home Remedies :
There are quite a few natural and home remedies which can help in treatment and relief from Bladder cancer. Some of these include:
- Baking Soda : Cancerous cells are known to thrive in acidic environments. Baking soda can be used to increase the pH of the body.
- Lemon and other citrus fruits : Citrus fruits contain a high amount of vitamin C which is one of the best alternatives to cancer treatment.
- Blackstrap molasses : Even these help in increasing the pH level of the body and prevent cancerous cells from thriving.
- Mistletoe : A regular dose of mistletoe helps in prevention of recurrence of cancerous cells after surgery.
- Spinach: Spinach contains a high amount of vitamin E which also helps reduce the risk of bladder cancer.
Bladder Cancer Treatment :
Treatment of Bladder cancer depends on the stage and the severity of the cancer. Common treatment procedures include:
- Surgical Procedures: Different types of surgical procedures can be carried out depending on whether the Bladder Cancer is in an early stage or in an invasive phase.
- Biological Therapy or Immunotherapy : In this procedure, drugs are used to induce the body’s immune system to fight the cancerous cells. The drugs used include stimulating bacteria and synthetic proteins.
- Chemotherapy : This process also uses drugs but drugs are administered to directly attack and kill the cancerous cells. Drugs are administered directly to the urinary bladder or intravenously.
- Radiation Therapy: This is a rarely used treatment process in Bladder Cancer. Beams of high energy are directed to cancer affected cells which destroy the cells. It is sometimes performed after surgery or in conjunction with chemotherapy.
Some Interesting Facts :
- Bladder Cancer is the ninth most prominent type of cancer.
- In the US, this type of cancer is the fourth most common type found in men and the ninth most common type found in women.
- In the UK, this type of cancer is the seventh most prominent type.
- Globally, the disease resulted in over 170,000 deaths in the year 2010.