Bladder cancer affects the tissues in and around the bladder, the organ responsible for holding your body's urine. It's estimated that the disease infects an estimated 17,000 women and 45,000 men each year.
Bladder Cancer Types
It's important to note that there is more than one type of bladder cancer. In fact, there are three:
- Transitional Cell Carcinoma: This is the most common type of bladder cancer and originates in the cells of your bladder's inner layers. The cells, known as transitional cells, change shape when the tissues become stretched.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This type of bladder cancer is rare in the U.S. and begins when flat, thin squamous cells develop in the bladder following a persistent bladder infection or other types of long-term irritation.
- Adenocarcinoma: This type of bladder cancer is also rare and begins when glandular cells develop in the bladder after persistent and long-term inflammation or irritation in the bladder.
Bladder Cancer Causes
Like other types of cancer, the exact cause of bladder cancer remains unknown. All we know is that it's a disease that happens when abnormal cells multiply and grow quickly and spread to infect other areas of the body.
However, there are a few known risk factors that may make you more vulnerable to developing the condition, including:
- Exposure to Cancer-Causing Chemicals
- High-Fat Diets
- Family History of Bladder Cancer
Bladder Cancer Symptoms
Bladder cancer comes with a variety of symptoms to keep an eye out for, including sudden weight loss, fatigue, and the following:
- Blood in Your Urine
- Painful Urination
- Urgent or Frequent Urination
- Urinary Incontinence
- Abdominal Pain
- Lower Back Pain
Bladder Cancer Diagnosis
If you think you may have bladder cancer, schedule an appointment with your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Nowadays, doctors have many tests and tools available to diagnose bladder cancer. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may perform the following tests to diagnose you:
Bladder Cancer Treatment
If your doctor diagnoses you with bladder cancer, he or she will recommend a treatment option depending on what stage your cancer is in. Fortunately, whether your cancer is in state 0, stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, or stage 4, there is a treatment option available, including the following:
- Treatment for Stage 0 and Stage 1: Oftentimes, treatment in these stages may involve surgically removing the cancerous tumor from your bladder. Your doctor may also recommend chemotherapy or immunotherapy.
- Treatment for Stage 2 and Stage 3: In these stages, your doctor may recommend removing part of your bladder and chemotherapy treatments. In some cases, your doctor may remove your entire bladder in a procedure known as a radical cystectomy. Your doctor may also recommend radiation therapy or immunotherapy to shrink the tumor before performing any surgery or when surgery isn't a viable option. Sometimes, radiation therapy is also used to eliminate any remaining cancer cells after surgery.
- Treatment for Stage 4: In this stage, chemotherapy is often recommended to extend your life and help relieve any unpleasant symptoms. Your doctor may also perform a radical cystectomy and remove surrounding lymph nodes. Radiation therapy and immunotherapy are also commonly used to eliminate remaining cancer cells and relieve symptoms. Additionally, doctors sometimes recommend clinical trial drugs for stage 4 patients.
Bladder Cancer Prognosis
The prognosis for bladder cancer depends on many factors, including the stage of your cancer, symptoms, and overall health. One of the best things you can do is consult with your doctor whenever you have questions or worries about your condition or treatment plan.