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Bladder cancer

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The bladder is the organ responsible for storing urine while it waits to be excreted from the body. It is a small, balloon shaped organ that rests in the pelvic area. Bladder cancer that is detected early has a high chance of survival. Bladder cancer that has spread becomes much more challenging to treat effectively. Most cases of bladder cancer occur in patients who are older than 73, with it being almost unheard of in patients younger than 55. Smoking is the single biggest risk factor for bladder cancer. Some toxic chemicals and drugs can also trigger bladder cancer.

BLADDER CANCER SYMPTOMS

Like most cancers, bladder cancer usually doesn’t cause any symptoms in the early stages of the disease. As symptoms develop, the likelihood that the cancer has spread becomes higher. Blood in the urine, blood that shows up in a urine test, and urine that is darker than normal due to blood involvement is usually the first sign of bladder cancer. Other symptoms may include painful urination, pelvic pain, a sluggish urinary system, and the urgent need to urinate without being able to produce adequate amounts of urine.

BLADDER CANCER CAUSES

Cancer is caused by a specific mutation of the rate of cell growth, as well as a DNA mutation that affects the cells of an organ and causes cancer. Some scientists believe that genetics can be a factor in bladder cancer simply because it is a fairly rare cancer but there are familial circumstances that prove that bladder cancer can run in families. Of course toxins such as cigarette smoke and other chemicals can also lead to genetic mutations which cause cancer. The basic cause for all cancers remains the same. Healthy cells divide in a normal and orderly fashion which is ultimately controlled by DNA. Cancer is caused when those cells begin to develop in a haywire or obscure fashion, typically too fast without control by the DNA.
Bladder cancer
Image: Bladder cancer

BLADDER CANCER RISK FACTOR

Risk factors for bladder cancer include smoking cigarettes, exposure to toxic chemicals, age, race, gender, chronic bladder inflammation, previous chemotherapy or radiation treatments, a birth defect of the bladder, family history, and exposure to arsenic. Nearly all patients with bladder cancer smoked cigarettes for at least 15 years. White males over the age of 55 are the most at risk especially if they have smoked or been exposed to potentially toxic chemicals.

BLADDER CANCER DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosing bladder cancer begins with a physical examination that may involve a rectal or vaginal insertion to complete an internal examination. Additionally, tests such as a urine tests to check for cancer cells, a cystoscopy which allows for visual examination as well as biopsy of the bladder without surgical intrusion, an x-ray with an injection that highlights organs, a tumor marker test, and a test which determines chromosomal abnormalities. If cancer is detected, staging tests are then done to determine its severity and help determine the appropriate course of treatment. Staging simply means deciding the severity of cancer and placing it into an easily recognizable category.

BLADDER CANCER SIDE EFFECTS

Bladder cancer can cause several complications, all which require medical attention. Bladder cancer can lead to anemia, a blockage of the ureters, and urinary incontinence. A physician should be able to help at least ease the incontinence if not alleviate it entirely.

BLADDER CANCER TREATMENT

Treatment options for bladder cancer require as much patient participation as possible. Often a specialist, such as a urologist, can offer the best course of treatment in conjunction with an oncologist. Surgical procedures for removing the cancer include removal of part of the bladder wall and removal of only the cancerous cells. These options are for patients who caught their bladder cancer in the earlier stages and have a lot of healthy bladder surrounding the cancer.

More extensive procedures may involve removing the entire bladder, and reconstructing a new bladder, either internally or externally. The lymph nodes and part of the urethra are typically taken as well with this procedure. This procedure is only done when necessary as it affects the patient’s ability to urinate as well as perform sexual activities.


Radiation and chemotherapy are typically recommended for patients with bladder cancer, even those who caught their cancer early. This helps to ensure that the cancer that may be left behind after surgery or any stray cancer cells are destroyed. Biological therapy, which is the use of the body’s own immune system, can help keep bladder cancer from returning. The same vaccine that is used to vaccinate against tuberculosis is used to trigger the body’s immune system to fight any potential cancerous cells from returning.

The most difficult aspect of bladder cancer for patients to cope with is the addition of the urostomy bag. Despite the fact that they can be hidden under clothing, don’t leak, and a re small enough to be inconspicuous, many patients struggle with their identity as a normal person after receiving the bag. Counseling is recommended for those who can’t adjust or who refuse to leave their home for fear of leaking. Family support and family members who maintain their basic expectations of the patient are often the most helpful coping mechanism.
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