Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in any part of the body. These cells accumulate and form a tumor. The tumor may be benign or malignant in nature. Benign tumors are less invasive and their growth is limited to the site of origin, whereas malignant tumors are the ones that possess a greater threat. Malignant tumors grow and continue to spread through different parts of the body if left untreated.
When such a tumor is formed in the Bladder then it is termed as Bladder Cancer. Bladder Cancer refers to several types of malignant growth of the Urinary Bladder. Depending on the cells, Bladder Cancer is categorized into different types and each type demands a unique prognosis.
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Bladder Cancer is one of the most common urinary tract Cancers. According to the recent reports from National Cancer Registry Programme, the overall occurrence of Bladder Cancer in India is 2.25%. According to Cancer statistics of the world, Bladder Cancer ranks 9th in occurrence. Detailed statistics revealed, it is the 7th most common malignancy in men and 17th in women.
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A symptom is an abnormal sign that a person experiences when any of the organs fail to perform its functions perfectly. Bladder Cancer often shows early symptoms facilitating early detection. Some of the symptoms that demands a cross-check for the presence of any malicious cells are:
Any blood in the urine should be reported to the doctor immediately, though this does not certainly claim the presence of Bladder Cancer. Less than 0.1% of cases of Hematuria are caused by Bladder Cancer. However, this sign should not be ignored. Blood in the urine may be a sign of several other medical conditions, as well as Bladder Cancer.
The exact cause of Bladder Cancer has not yet been coined down. However, over the years certain factors have been identified to have increased the risk of developing Bladder Cancer. Bladder Cancer can be caused by multiple factors. An unhealthy lifestyle, familial history, and ignorance are the most common modes of getting this disease. However, there are certain factors that are natural and are beyond one’s control.
Due to ambiguity in the exact causes of Bladder Cancer , preventions of Bladder Cancer is difficult. However avoiding the risk factors do provide a shielding to some extent. Some of the precautions are listed below:
Bladder Cancer is staged into 5 groups, which is determined by the extent of the tumor and its spread. The following list describes its various stages.
The advancement in science and technology has facilitated multiple convenient ways to diagnose Bladder Cancer at a very early stage thus making its prognosis easier. Here are a few tests which are used to diagnose Bladder Cancer :
Urine Sample: Urine tests are conducted to check for abnormal cells, this called a urinary cystography. Though this test reveals some important information, however, the accuracy of the same is doubtful.
Physical examination : This may include an examination of the rectum and vagina for women, and just the rectum for men.
Imaging Tests: These tests allow the doctor to observe the structures of the urinary tract. A dye is either injected into a vein or swallowed directly, to highlight the Bladder, uterus, and kidneys. An X-ray is then taken to get a clear view of the suspected organs.
Cystoscopy: A long-thin flexible tube is inserted through the patient’s urethra into the Bladder to look inside it. A cystoscope has a lens for viewing and a fiber-optic lighting system which allows observing the inside of the Bladder and urethra.
Biopsy: Biopsy is a procedure in which a few cells or tissues are removed and observed under a powerful microscope. This procedure is also called TURBT (transurethral resection of bladder tumor). TURBT is sometimes used to treat Bladder Cancer. The patient is usually given a general anesthetic.
There are different types of treatments available to cure Bladder Cancer. Depending on the overall health condition, age, and health history of the patient the most suitable treatment plan is selected by the oncologists. Some of the advanced treatment options are:
Surgery: It is the most preferred treatment option when Cancer is detected at an early stage. Surgery involves removal of the tumor and some surrounding healthy tissues. There are different types of surgeries categorized based on stage and grade of the disease.
This surgery is conducted to route a new path for the urine to pass out of the body. This becomes necessary if a major portion of the Bladder is removed through surgery as a treatment to Bladder Cancer.
In this surgery, a cystoscope is inserted into the bladder through the urethra. An optical tool is then used to remove cancer or to burn the tumor with high-energy electricity. This process is also known as fulguration.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. A chemotherapy regimen typically consists of a specific number of cycles given over a set period of time.
There are 2 types of chemotherapy that may be used to treat Bladder Cancer.
Bladder Cancer is highly treatable when diagnosed at an early stage when fortunately most diagnoses are made. However, Bladder Cancer has a high rate of recurrence. Hence, post-therapy patients are recommended to go for regular screening at least once a year.
In case of experiencing any of the mentioned symptoms or having a prior or familial history of Bladder Cancer, a physical examination by a specialist is highly recommended
Being aware of the symptoms and keeping a vigilant eye on the health conditions and any particular changes in the body behavior helps in discovering the disease at an early stage.