Urinary bladder cancer

Description of Urinary bladder cancer

Urinary bladder cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled growth of bladder cells, commonly the innermost lining of the bladder.
Causes and Risk Factors
Bladder cancer is seen in older adults and is more common in men than in women. Following are the risk factors that make a person more likely to develop bladder cancer:
1. Smoking: Smoking is the most important risk factor for bladder cancer. It increases the risk threefold as compared to non-smokers.
2. Exposure to arsenic
3. Exposure to chemicals: Industrial chemicals such as benzidine and beta-naphthylamine that are used in dye industry have been linked with bladder cancer. Hence, people who are hairdressers, painters, machine operators etc. by occupation are at increased risk.
4. Medicines or herbal supplements: Pioglitazone, an anti-diabetic medicine when used for more than a year creates higher risk. Dietary supplements containing aristolochic acid can also increase the risk.
5. Chronic bladder irritation or infection: Urinary tract infections, calculi in kidney and bladder, and other factors causing chronic bladder irritation can increase the risk.
6. Genetic disorders: Presence of inherited genetic syndromes like retinoblastoma, Cowden disease, and Lynch disease might also increase the risk.
Signs and Symptoms
Early symptoms:
1. Blood in urine
2. Altered bladder habits
Late symptoms:
1. Fatigue
2. Weight loss and loss of appetite
3. Bone pain
4. Back ache and low back ache
1. Lab tests,
a) Urine cytology: To see if any cancerous or pre-cancerous cells are present in urine.
b) Urine culture: To distinguish if the symptoms are due to infection or cancer.
2. Imaging studies test,
a) Imaging tests like x-ray, bone scan, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CT scans (computed tomography), and PET (positron emission tomography) are done to determine the extent of bladder cancer.
b) Cystoscopy: It is done to directly view the inner lining of urinary bladder for cancerous lumps.
3. Others,
a) Biopsy tissue sample is obtained from the bladder to look for cancer cells.
b) Intravenous pyelogram: Helps in detecting urinary tract tumors by using a dye.
Depending on the stage of cancer, any of the following treatment options can be used:
1. Surgery: This involves surgical removal of tumor
2. Chemotherapy: Medicines are given to destroy malignant tissue
3. Radiotherapy: High energy beams are used to kill cancer cells
4. Intravesical therapy: For this therapy, the drug is introduced in the bladder directly rather than administering it intravenously or orally.
5. Immunotherapy: This therapy works on the principle of signaling your body's immune system to assist in fighting the cancer cells.
Complications and When Should You See a Doctor 

Unless diagnosed during early stages, bladder cancer can spread to surrounding organs. Also, it can spread to the liver, lungs, and bones.
Other complications of this cancer are:
1. Anemia
2. Swelling of the kidneys and the ureters
3. Structure of urethra
4. Erectile dysfunction in males
5. Urinary incontinence
6. Narrowing of the vagina in females. 
A doctor must be consulted immediately if urine contains blood or if other symptoms of bladder cancer are seen, like increased frequency and urgency of urination, painful urination and difficulty in passing urine.
Content Details
Last updated on:
01 Nov 2021 | 04:55 PM (IST)
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