Bladder cancer refers to the abnormal growth of cells in the bladder. The most common symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. However, other symptoms may include urinary frequency, urgency, and pain. Treatment for bladder cancer often depends on the stage of the disease.
Bladder Cancer Treatment in Tucson, AZ
What is Bladder Cancer?
Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the bladder. The bladder is a small, hollow organ in the lower abdomen that stores urine. When the cells lining the inside of the bladder become abnormal, they can grow out of control and form a tumor. Bladder cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and it affects men more often than women.
Symptoms of bladder cancer include blood in the urine, pain during urination, and frequent urination. If left untreated, bladder cancer can spread to other parts of the body and be fatal. Treatment options for bladder cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Early detection is key to successful treatment, so it is important to see a doctor if you experience any symptoms of bladder cancer.
Types of Bladder Cancer
There are three main types of bladder cancer, which are classified according to the affected cell type.
Urothelial carcinoma, also known as UCC, is the most common type of bladder cancer, accounting for around 90% of all cases. This type of cancer affects the cells that line the inside of the bladder.
Squamous cell carcinoma affects the flat, thin cells that make up the innermost layer of the bladder, while adenocarcinoma affects the glandular cells that produce mucus. Each type of bladder cancer can have different symptoms and requires different treatment. Therefore, it is important to get a diagnosis from a doctor so that the best course of action can be taken.
What are the symptoms of Bladder Cancer?
Early stage bladder cancer often does not have any symptoms. This is why it is important to see a doctor regularly and get screened for the disease, especially if you are over the age of 50 or have other risk factors. However, as cancer grows, it may start to cause problems. Here are the most common symptoms of bladder cancer:
- Blood clots or presence of blood in the urine.
- Burning, often painful sensation when urinating
- Urinating more frequently than usual
- Uncontrollable urge to urinate at night
- Urinary retention
- Lower back pain on only one side of your body
How is Bladder cancer diagnosed?
Bladder cancer is most often diagnosed after a person notices blood in their urine and visits their doctor. The doctor will then ask about the person’s medical history and symptoms and perform a physical exam.
They may also order one or more of the following tests: cystoscopy, urinalysis, CT scan, MRI, and/or biopsy. Cystoscopy is the most common diagnostic test for bladder cancer. It involves inserting a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera into the bladder through the urethra to check for abnormal areas.
During a urinalysis, a sample of urine is examined for signs of cancer. A CT scan uses X-rays to create detailed images of the bladder and other organs in the pelvis. An MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of the bladder. A biopsy involves removing tissue samples from the bladder to be examined for cancer cells using a microscope.
There are four stages of Bladder cancer:
Stage I: The cancer has penetrated the inner lining of the bladder and into the lamina propria. It has not metastasized to the bladder wall’s thick layer of muscle or to lymph nodes or other organs.
Stage II: The cancer has now spread into the thick muscle wall of the bladder. It’s also known as invasive cancer or muscular cancer when it spreads beyond bone, muscle, and other tissues to fat. The tumor has not spread to the fatty tissue surrounding the bladder and has not traveled to lymph nodes or other organs.
Stage III: The cancer has spread to the outer layer of muscle (perivesical tissue) or to the prostate, urethra, or uterus and vagina. Alternatively, the disease has spread to the regional lymph nodes.
Stage IV: A tumor has spread beyond the pelvis or to lymph nodes outside of the body, or the cancer has spread to other parts of the body’s tissues.
What are the treatments for Bladder cancer?
The treatment for lung cancer is determined by the stage of the disease, the sort of cancer, your age and general health, as well as your preferences.
- Surgery is the most common treatment for all stages of bladder cancer. The type of surgery depends on how advanced the cancer is. For early-stage cancers, surgery may involve removing the tumor and a small amount of surrounding tissue through a cystoscope. This procedure, called transurethral resection of the bladder (TURB), is usually done under general anesthesia. For more advanced cancers, surgery may involve removing the entire bladder (cystectomy). The surgeon may also need to remove other nearby organs, such as the prostate, urethra, and lymph nodes. This type of surgery is usually done under general anesthesia.
- Intravesical chemotherapy is a treatment that involves instilling (putting) cancer-killing drugs directly into the bladder through a catheter. This type of chemotherapy is used to treat early-stage, nonis a type of chemotherapy that is directly injected into the bladder. It is often used to treat early-stage bladder cancer. Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. It is sometimes used to treat early-stage bladder cancer. Targeted drug therapy is a type of cancer treatment that targets specific genes or proteins that are involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. It is sometimes used to treat advanced bladder cancer.
- Systemic chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs are usually given intravenously (through an IV). Systemic chemotherapy is used to treat advanced bladder cancer. The doctor will then ask about the person’s medical history and symptoms and perform a physical exam.
- Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is used to treat early-stage bladder cancer.
- Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer. It is sometimes used to treat bladder cancer.
- Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that targets specific genes or proteins that are involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. It is sometimes used to treat advanced bladder cancer.
Your doctor and members of your care team may prescribe a combination of treatments.
What are the side effects of Bladder cancer treatment?
While these treatments are often effective in treating bladder cancer, they can also cause a variety of side effects.
Surgery for bladder cancer can cause complications such as blood loss, infection, and urinary incontinence.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can both cause fatigue, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. In addition, radiation therapy can also cause skin irritation and burning.
While these side effects can be difficult to deal with, it is important to remember that they are temporary and that most people are able to recover from them without any long-term problems.
It is also important to talk to your doctor about any side effects that you are experiencing, as there are often treatments that can help to relieve them.
What is the role of radiation therapy in Bladder Cancer?
Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. While it can be used to treat a wide variety of cancer types, it is particularly effective against bladder cancer. When used in conjunction with other treatments, such as surgery and chemotherapy, radiation therapy can help to improve the chances of a positive outcome.
- Intraoperative radiation therapy during bladder cancer surgery – This treatment is more effective because it occurs during surgery and can be delivered to a precise area. By using a higher-than-usual dose of radiation, we are able to provide better protection for normal tissue, especially the bowel.
- External-beam radiation therapy for bladder cancer – The most frequent type of radiation therapy is external-beam radiation therapy. It is given by a machine that is outside the body. The treatment usually consists of X-rays. Protons or other types of energy are sometimes used instead of charged particles known as protons or other types of energy.
- Image-guided radiation therapy for bladder cancer – Before we direct radiation therapy to the bladder cancer, we first use image-guided radiation therapy to locate the tumor and map out the position of the bladder. Since treating this area can be difficult because the location of full or empty bladder changes often, we place gold markers near where tumors are found. These help us keep track of how much movement occurs day by day so that treatments remain as precise as possible.
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy for bladder cancer – When designing treatment, we employ sophisticated imaging strategies to ensure that intensity-modulated radiation therapy is safe and effective. This method employs computer programs to calculate and deliver varying doses of radiation from various angles directly to the tumor. Our radiation oncologists had a significant role in developing this kind of radiation therapy, working closely with the medical physics team.
What is the prognosis for someone with Bladder cancer?
The prognosis for someone with bladder cancer depends on a number of factors, including the stage of the cancer, the type of cancer, and the individual’s age and overall health. In general, early-stage bladder cancer is more treatable than late-stage disease.
The five-year survival rate for people with early-stage bladder cancer is about 77%, while the five-year survival rate for those with the late-stage disease is only about 14%. Treatment options for bladder cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. The goal of treatment is to remove all of the cancerous cells and prevent the disease from returning.
With aggressive treatment, many people with bladder cancer can go on to live long and healthy lives.
Risk Factors for Bladder Cancer
There are several risk factors for bladder cancer, including:
- Smoking is the most significant risk factor, accounting for about half of all bladder cancer cases.
- Exposure to certain chemicals such as those used in the textile and rubber industries
- History of urinary infections
- Race and ethnicity – Bladder cancer is more common in white men than in any other group.
- Age – The risk of bladder cancer increases with age, with most cases occurring in people over the age of 55.
- Arsenic in drinking water – Arsenic has been associated with a heightened danger of bladder cancer in some areas. How much arsenic you’re exposed to depends on where you live and how you get your water. If you drink from a well, for instance, you may be more likely to ingest it than if you get your H2O from a public system that meets regulated standards for low arsenic content. Fortunately, for the majority of Americans, ingestion of this chemical via drinking water isn’t generally considered a serious threat.
How can you reduce your risk of getting Bladder cancer?
- Avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Limit your exposure to certain chemicals, including those used in the textile and rubber industries.
- Drink plenty of fluids to flush out toxins from the body.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- If you have a history of urinary infections, be sure to get treatment right away and follow up with your doctor to make sure the infection doesn’t return.
- Have regular checkups and tests as recommended by your doctor, especially if you’re over the age of 55 or have other risk factors for bladder cancer.
We are here to help
We know that a diagnosis of bladder cancer can be a frightening and overwhelming experience. We are here to provide information and support to help you through this difficult time.
We can answer your questions about treatment options and side effects, help you find a qualified doctor in your area, and connect you with other people who have been affected by bladder cancer.
We also offer a free online support group where you can share your experiences and connect with others who understand what you are going through. No one should have to face bladder cancer alone, and we are here to help.