An estimated 79,000 adults – about 60,000 men and 19,000 women – will be diagnosed with bladder cancer this year. It’s the fourth most common cancer among men.
Causes and Deterrents
Did you know that bladder cancer can be self-inflicted? For example, it can result from years of smoking cigarettes, or exposure to harmful chemicals such as arsenic, dyes, and toxic paint in the workplace.
One easy way to prevent bladder trouble is by saying no to smoking. After all, the cancer-causing components in cigarettes and other nicotine-based products build up over time in the bladder and other organs.
If you work at a chemical plant, construction site, salon, hospital, or any other facility where you encounter hazardous waste or other toxic materials, be sure to always wear proper protection and dispose of these materials carefully.
Eating a diet rich in antioxidants – plenty of fruits, veggies, and minimally processed foods – is also a deterrent for many diseases. Natural, 100-percent cranberry juice, green tea, tomatoes, and vitamin E-rich foods (such as almonds) are excellent cancer-fighters.
However, in many cases, bladder cancer cannot be avoided. Certain people are simply genetically predisposed to develop the disease. Men, the elderly, and those with a family history of first-degree relatives with bladder cancer are more likely to get it themselves.
Approximately 90 percent of all reported incidences of bladder cancer is urothelial carcinoma, also known as transitional cell carcinoma, which occurs in the urothelial cells lining the bladder. Squamous cell carcinoma is a much rarer form of bladder cancer and develops in response to irritation and inflammation; in some cases, patients using catheters for extended periods may be at a higher risk for it.
Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
The most common symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine (hematuria) – a symptom that indicates you should seek immediate medical attention. Interestingly, a patient does not always notice blood in the urine – sometimes testing in a physician’s office is the only way to detect microscopic traces of blood in the urine.
Lower back pain, and frequent or painful urination may also be present. One silver lining is that outward symptoms such as these enable doctors to diagnose the disease at a much earlier stage.
A urologist will conduct a host of tests to determine whether you have bladder cancer, what type it is, and how it can be best treated.
Several tests may be required to identify the root of the problem.
In addition to urine tests, your physician may perform a cystoscopy – a procedure in which a flexible tube with an attached camera lens is used to detect the presence of growths, tumors, and in some cases, stones. It is a scoping of the bladder via the urethra. Should your surgeon discover lesions, a biopsy may be retrieved and sent to the lab for testing.
When it comes to eradicating bladder cancer, a transurethral resection of the bladder (TURBT) is often a first-line approach. Unlike more invasive surgeries, TURBT is an outpatient procedure that sidesteps the steep costs and long recuperation periods associated with traditional surgeries.
Robotic radial cystectomy is another minimally invasive option for cancer that has infiltrated the bladder muscles, resulting in the need for removal of the entire organ.
By inflating the patient’s abdomen, surgeons can achieve unprecedented precision and reduce post-procedure complications.
Don’t put off a doctor visit if you are experiencing symptoms of bladder cancer. Instead, pay a visit to your urologist today.
The experts at Urologic Surgeons of Arizona have extensive experience diagnosing and treating a variety of urologic cancers. For more information about bladder cancer and general urological health, contact Urologic Surgeons of Arizona at (480) 409-5060.