Bladder cancer occurs when there is an abnormal growth and multiplication of cells in the bladder that leads to the formation of a tumor. About 90 percent of bladder cancers arise from abnormal growth of the cells lining the urinary tract, and men are about three times more likely to develop bladder cancer than women. Over 60,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year in the U.S.
At La Peer Health Systems, our renowned team of Beverly Hills urologists is committed to providing excellent cancer control through patient-specific treatment and cutting-edge procedures. We offer comprehensive screenings to detect bladder cancer in its earliest stage, helping to achieve optimal treatment outcomes.
To schedule a consultation with one of our bladder cancer experts, please call us at (855) 360-9119.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF BLADDER CANCER
There are a wide array of symptoms and conditions that may indicate bladder cancer. It is important to consult your doctor if you begin to experience any of the following symptoms in order to rule out or confirm bladder cancer:
- Hematuria – This is the most common symptom of a possible cancer of the urinary bladder, which is the presence of blood in the urine. This bleeding might be seen by the naked eye (gross hematuria), or it may only be seen under a microscope (microscopic hematuria).
- Urinary Frequency – The patient voids small amounts of urine in shorter intervals.
- Urgency – This is described as a person who could not hold his/her urine for a longer period of time after the first notion to void.
- Dysuria – Describes a burning sensation while urinating.
In more advanced bladder cancer, patients might present signs such as a distended bladder, flank pain, or systemic symptoms indicating that the cancer has spread to other regions of the body.
CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS
- Cigarette Smoking – This cause has been strongly associated specifically to urothelial carcinomas, the most common type of bladder cancer. About 50% of men and 30% of women who have bladder cancers are also long-time smokers. Cigarette smoke has a toxic chemical that is carcinogenic, which is a substance that may lead to cancer.
- Age and Family History – Males are more prone to bladder cancers, but it is also seen mostly in people 60 years of age and above. A person who is genetically predisposed to bladder cancer is also likely at greater risk.
- Chemical Exposure – People who work in the chemical industry place themselves at a higher risk of acquiring bladder cancers due to exposure to carcinogens.
- Diet – People whose diet consists contains significant portions of animal fats and fried meats are at higher risks of getting bladder cancer.
- Chronic Bladder Inflammation – A history of bladder infections and bladder stones might also present a future risk for cancers in the urinary bladder.
BLADDER CANCER DIAGNOSIS
The symptoms of bladder cancer may be indicative of other urologic diseases. For this reason, a comprehensive screening using urine analysis and imaging techniques is necessary to develop a correct diagnosis. Screening tests for bladder cancer include:
- Urinalysis – A simple urine test that proves the presence or absence of blood in the person’s urine. Although it does not immediately confirm bladder cancer, it may indicate the possibility of bleeding upon urination.
- Urine Cytology – A urine sample is sent to a pathologist that examines it for the presence of cancerous cells in the urine.
- Ultrasound – Imaging device performed over the region of the bladder to detect tumor growth.
- CT Scan/ MRI – These are additional imaging devices that can accurately reveal the location and progression of tumors within the body.
- Cystoscopy/Biopsy – This is the single most important diagnostic tool for bladder cancers. A thin optical instrument called a cystoscope is placed in the urethra and inserted into the bladder. This allows for visualization of the possible tumor. If a tumor is found, a tiny piece can be taken and analyzed in the lab to determine the type and progression of the tumor.
- Pyelography – A contrast medium (Iodine) is injected intravenously so that doctors can visualize any organ abnormalities in the urinary tract.
Surgery is typically performed to remove bladder cancer in its earlier stages. The specific operation performed by our urologists depends on the stage of the tumor as well as the health of the individual patient. In more advanced stage bladder cancers that have metastasized to other areas of the body, it may be necessary to employ radiation or chemotherapy as well in order to help optimally manage the disease.
The common surgeries for bladder cancer are as follows:
- Transurethral Resection of Bladder Tumor (TURBT) – In this surgical operation, an instrument is placed in the urethra and advanced into the bladder. The tumor is removed through a small wire loop on the instrument’s other end by means of cutting or burning. This is an outpatient procedure that does not involve any skin incisions.
- Radical Cystectomy – This procedure involves removing the whole urinary bladder organ along with the lymph nodes surrounding the area. This is done to prevent metastasis of the cancer cells to other organs. Partial cystectomy (removing a part of the bladder) may be used in certain cases.
BLADDER CANCER FAQ’S
Q: Is it possible to have bladder cancer without visible blood in the urine?
A: While bladder cancer typically produces visible blood in the urine (gross hematuria), it is also possible to have microscopic hematuria, which is the presence of blood cells in urine that are not visible to the human eye. For this reason, it is important to contact your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms of bladder cancer.
Q: If I quit smoking, will that decrease my risk of developing bladder cancer?
A: Yes, studies have shown that cessation of smoking decreases the risk of bladder cancer over time. In general, smokers carry four times the risk of developing bladder cancer compared to nonsmokers.
Q: What is follow-up treatment like after bladder cancer surgery?
A: Follow-up treatment may vary depending on the age of the patient and the stage of bladder cancer. Generally, cystoscopy as well as imaging studies will be used to check for the spread or recurrence of cancer. Blood, urine, and bladder exams will also be conducted on a more routine basis to ensure removal of the cancer.
CONTACT A BEVERLY HILLS UROLOGIST
If you have been experiencing symptoms of bladder cancer, consider scheduling a consultation with one of renowned urological surgeons that specializes in bladder cancer treatment. Contact La Peer Health Systems at (855) 360-9119 for more information.
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