What is Bladder Cancer?

Bladder cancer, or transitional cell cancer, is a type of urothelial cancer that forms in the bladder. The bladder is the organ in the lower part of the urinary tract. It’s a hollow organ that helps you urinate. Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the bladder.

The bladder is made up of the following parts:

  • Bladder
  • Ureters
  • Urethra

The ureters are tubular structures that branch off the bladder and carry urine from the bladder to the kidneys. Urine travels through the ureters and into the kidneys. The kidneys are bean-shaped organs located in the back of the abdomen. They help remove waste from the blood and flush the waste out of the body.

The urethra is a tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. It also helps make a connection between the bladder and the penis.

What causes bladder cancer?

Most bladder cancers are caused by a high-risk type of bacteria called E. Coli. Other bladder cancer risk factors include:

  • Being over age 60
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, such as arsenic
  • Having a chronic condition that causes swelling in the bladder, such as interstitial cystitis (IC)
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Having a family history of bladder cancer
  • Having certain genetic disorders
  • Having certain diseases

What are the symptoms of bladder cancer?

Symptoms of bladder cancer often start suddenly. They may include:

  • Having to urinate more frequently
  • Having to urinate more than once a day
  • Feeling a need to urinate even when you don’t have to
  • Blood in the urine
  • Urine that looks cloudy or dark
  • Urine that’s a reddish-brown color

After these symptoms start, you may not have any symptoms for several weeks. However, if the cancer has spread, you may notice other symptoms.

How is bladder cancer diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and past health. You may also need to answer questions about your current health. Your doctor will also want to know about any other health conditions you have.

Your doctor will examine you. They may also do a urine test. A urine test is a common test for bladder cancer.

You may also have an imaging test. These tests can show if it’s cancer or not.

You may need a biopsy. A biopsy is a test where a small piece of tissue is taken out and checked under a microscope. This test can help your doctor find out the stage of the bladder cancer.

How is bladder cancer treated?

Treatment for bladder cancer depends on the stage. It also depends on how far the cancer has spread.

Your doctor will talk with you about the treatment plan that’s best for you. Some treatments may include:

  • Surgery. This is the main treatment for bladder cancer. It can remove the cancer and some of the normal tissue around it.
  • Chemotherapy. This is a treatment where medicines are given to kill cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy. This is a treatment where high-energy rays are used to kill cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy. This is a treatment that uses the body’s immune system to fight the cancer.

What’s the outlook for people with bladder cancer?

The outlook for people with bladder cancer depends on the stage of the cancer. The stage is based on the size of the tumor and how far the cancer has spread.

The stage of bladder cancer is described as follows:

  • Stage 1 is limited to the inner lining of the bladder. It’s also limited to the ureters.
  • Stage 2 is limited to the inner lining of the bladder and the first two layers of the ureters. It doesn’t extend to the upper part of the bladder or the urethra.
  • Stage 3 is cancer that’s grown into the bladder wall or the wall of the bladder.
  • Stage 4 is cancer that’s grown into the bladder wall or the wall of the bladder. It also has spread to the lymph nodes near the bladder.

Stage 4 bladder cancer is usually treated with surgery and chemotherapy.

There’s a chance that bladder cancer can come back after treatment. But it’s rare.

When to see a doctor?

If you have any of the symptoms of bladder cancer, see your doctor.

They can do tests to find out if cancer is present. This can help them stage the cancer.

How can I prevent bladder cancer?

You can’t always avoid cancer. But you can lower your risk of getting it.

Here are some tips to help lower your risk of cancer:

  • Stay up to date on cancer screenings. These are screenings that look for cancer early on.
  • Stay away from carcinogens. This includes tobacco smoke and other things that can cause cancer.
  • Exercise. It’s important to be physically active.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Look for ways to lower your body weight.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Avoid infections.

Outlook for people with bladder cancer

If you have bladder cancer, your outlook depends on the stage at the time of diagnosis.

Your doctor can help give you an idea of how your cancer might respond to treatment. They’ll also talk with you about your outlook.

It’s important to remember that there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Your doctor can talk with you about lifestyle changes that can help you in the future.

The bottom line

Bladder cancer is a type of urothelial cancer. It forms in the bladder and can spread to other parts of the body.

It’s more likely in older adults, in people with certain conditions, and in people who smoke

It also has a higher risk of spreading to the lymph nodes. This means more surgeries and other treatments to remove the cancer.

Images by Freepik

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