Introduction to Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer is an abnormal, potential malignant growth that originates in the bladder or metastases (migrates) from a cancer in another part of the body.
What is Bladder Cancer?
Bladder cancer is an abnormal, potential malignant growth that originates in the bladder or metastases (migrates) from a cancer in another part of the body. There a number of ways to classify bladder cancer depending on the tissue type it is composed of and the degree to which it has spread through the bladder wall. The broad classification of bladder cancers is into non-muscle-invasive or muscle-invasive cancers, with the latter being much more severe and requiring more intensive treatment.
What causes Bladder Cancer?
The principal causes of bladder cancer are smoking, alcohol and certain types of chemical exposure (dyes, paints, plastics etc) can become particularly relevant if your occupation involves manufacturing.
Other causes such as radiotherapy and certain chemotherapy can be implicated if you have had treatment in the past for conditions in the pelvic region. Your past medical history is also significant as you are more likely to suffer from bladder cancer if you have type 2 diabetes, a history of bladder or kidney stones and are post-menopausal.
What are the symptoms of Bladder Cancer?
The most common symptom of bladder cancers is when you find blood in your urine, though this may be accompanied with other symptoms depending on how far the cancer has spread such as pain in the hips and legs, weight loss and perhaps swelling of your legs. Additionally even though haematuria (blood present in urine) is most often painless you can also experience discomfort while urinating, and having to go to the bathroom more often in general.
How is Bladder Cancer treated?
Your treatment plan is highly dependent on your lifestyle and the stage of your cancer. If you have a non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer you will have the tumour surgically removed followed with a round of chemotherapy. You will be able to resume normal activities shortly after your treatment.
However in the most severe cases involving muscle-invasive bladder cancers you may have to undergo a cystectomy, the surgical removal of your bladder, and a round of radiotherapy potentially alongside adjunctive therapies. However it is important to remember that your treatment course will be highly individual and dependent on your circumstances.