What are bladder cancers?
The bladder is an organ that stores urine which is made in your kidneys and is transferred to your bladder by tubes called ureters. From your bladder, urine leaves your body through the urethra which is shorter in women and longer in men. Bladder cancers can affect not only your bladder but your ureters and urethra as well. There are different types of bladder cancers and they will have different treatment options.
Transitional cell (urothelial) carcinoma
This is the most common type of bladder cancer. Urothelial cells line the inside of the bladder as well as other parts of the urinary tract. If there is a tumor the entire urinary tract, including kidneys, will need to be examined for cancerous cells. Other bladder cancers:
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Small cell carcinoma
What are the signs and symptoms of bladder cancer?
Bladder cancer symptoms include blood in the urine, changes in urination habits, and pain while urinating. Signs of a more advanced bladder cancer include being unable to urinate, lower back pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, swelling in the feet, and bone pain.
Urination problems are more commonly signs of a urinary tract infection which will need medication to clear up the infection. Consult your physician if you are experiencing any of these signs.
What are the causes and risk factors of bladder cancer?
In addition to family history and genetics, some risk factors of bladder cancer include:
- Industrial chemical exposure
- Race or ethnicity
- Chronic bladder problems
- Arsenic exposure in drinking water
- Low fluid consumption
- Certain medications
In addition to these risk factors, having bladder or urothelial cancer can increase your risk for developing bladder cancer again. Bladder birth defects also increase a person's risk for bladder cancer.
How is bladder cancer diagnosed and treated?
Physicians can use urinalysis tests to find blood in urine which is a sign of bladder cancer. Other diagnostic tests your physician might use include urine cytology and urine tests for tumor markers. These tests have been successful at finding bladder cancer early to help patients fight cancer to best of their abilities. Treatment plans for bladder cancer may include surgery, intravesical therapy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.