Yes! Bladder Cancer is Highly Treatable

Bladder cancer is very much treatable especially because it responds to various options such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The Symptoms of Bladder cancer include painless blood in the urine or painful & frequent urination.

Bladder cancer is characterized by atypical cells that start multiplying out of control in the bladder. In the initial stage malign cells can be found only with in the bladder. If treatment is not given at the right time the cancer cells can multiply out of control & invade the muscular tissues. In this invasive stage these cancer cells get into the lymph nodes and other organs in the surrounding area causing irregular function of the urinary tract & kidneys. If the cancer is limited only to the wall of the bladder, it is called superficial bladder cancer. Invasive bladder cancer develops from the transitional cells that can go beyond the superficial coat, thus invading the muscular tissue of the bladder or other organs and lymph nodes in the area. The function of the bladder is to store and eliminate urine that forms in the kidneys. At the same time, one or more cancers can form in different parts of the bladder.

Symptoms and causes:

The causes of bladder cancer are not entirely & sufficiently known, but there are studies that have shown that a greater appears in men and in smokers. Risk factors:

  • Smoking is the main risk factor, bladder cancer is three times more frequent in smokers than non-smokers;
  • Age over 40 years old;
  • Male, men develop this kind of cancer four times more frequently than women;
  • Caucasian ethnicity: the occurrence of bladder cancer in Caucasian men is twice more frequent that in Hispanics or Afro-Americans. The Asian-Americans encounter a low risk of developing bladder cancer;
  • A diet high in nitrates, meat and fat;
  • Radiotherapy or chemotherapy for uterine or ovarian cancer;
  • Medical history of bladder cancer in the family;
  • Toxins in the work place;
  • Chronic infections of the bladder (chronic cystitis);
  • Infections caused by certain parasites such as Schistosomiasis. Non-specific symptoms that can be experimented in early stages of bladder cancer:
  • Hematuria (blood or blood clots in urine) shows up at 80-90% of the patients and usually it is not painful;
  • Dysuria (discomfort during urination);
  • Frequent urination;
  • Frequent urinary tract infections. Symptoms that usually indicate a more advanced stage of cancer:
  • Lumbar pain;
  • Swelling of the legs;
  • Presence of a pelvis tumor in the area of the bladder;
  • Weight loss or anemia;
  • Bone pain, rectal or anal pain, and general pain in the pelvis area.

Investigation and diagnosis

The types & stages of bladder cancer depend on how aggressive the tumor is and how far the cancer has spread and how. Various investigations like Urine analysis, blood analysis, biopsies and bone radiographies are required to determine the stage of the cancer. Determining the stage is a very important factor in choosing the correct treatment that will deliver the best suited results.

Investigations and procedures:

  • Computerized axial tomography (CAT scan) is a procedure that offers detailed images from from various areas of the body and from all angles using an x-ray machine.
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) uses a computer with magnets and radio waves to generate a series of images of the surfaces from inside the body.
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP) is used to see any blockages in the urinary tract.
  • Cystoscopy is done for visualization inside the bladder and urethra.
  • Biopsy is the method used to sample cells and tissue to be examined microscopically to determine the malignancy of the tumor.

Treatment and prevention

The factors for curing bladder cancer are the below therapeutic options:

  • The stage of the cancer, as to whether it is a superficial or invasion one, whether it spreads to other parts of the body.
  • The type of cells that the cancer develops from and their further modifications (squamous cell carcinoma, transitional cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma);
  • The Patient’s age and condition of health. Amongst the surgical options that the doctors recommend is radical cystectomy – where the bladder and lymph nodes are removed. This procedure is usually performed when cancer cells invade the muscular tissue of the bladder. In women, there might be cases where the uterus and ovaries may be removed, while in men, the prostate and seminal vesicles may be removed. Post-surgery, even if the tumor is completely removed, some patients will require chemotherapy. This treatment is administered after surgery to better the success rate of curing the disease and to also prevent reoccurring of the tumor. It is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy. In cases where the tumor is very aggressive, after the bladder is removed, a urinary diversion is needed to be  to ensure the proper drainage of urine. Different types of diversions can be performed:
  • Ileal conduit: a urine bowl is created using a tiny segment of the small intestine and the end of the ileum is led out through the lower abdominal wall and the urine is drained into an external bag.
  • Neobladder: the “new” bladder is made out of a segment of intestine connected to the urethras on both sides, so it allows the urine to drain down from the kidneys. With this procedure in place, the patient will have to train the ‘new bladder’ to work correctly.
  • Continent cutaneous reservoir: a pouch is created from the small intestine letting the urine drain outside the body, but no stoma or drainage bag is needed. It is connected to the abdominal wall and it can be drained every several hours with a catheter.