Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer survival rate has increased dramatically in the past several years. The bladder is a hollow balloon shaped muscular organ that stores urine. The urine is produced by the kidneys. It flows through tubes called the ureters into the bladder and is discharged through the urethra during urination. The bladder muscle helps urination by tightening to help force out the urine.

Causes Of Bladder Cancer

A various number of substances that cause the cancers to develop have been identified. Among them are cancer-causing agents in cigarette smoke and various industrial chemicals. Cigarette smoking alone has been estimated to cause half of all bladder cancer cases. Longterm workplace exposure to chemical compounds such as paints and solvents has been estimated to cause another 20 to 25 percent of bladder cancer cases.

Symptoms Of Bladder Cancer

Painless blood in the urine (hematuria) is the most common symptom. It eventually occurs in nearly all cases of bladder cancer. In the majority of cases, the blood is visible during urination. In some cases, it is invisible except under a microscope, and is usually discovered when analyzing a urine sample as part of a routine examination. It is important to note that hematuria, particularly microscopic, might be entirely normal for some people.

Blood in the urine has many possible causes. It may result from a urinary tract infection or kidney stones rather than from cancer.. A diagnostic investigation is necessary to determine whether bladder cancer is present.

Other symptoms of bladder cancer may include frequent urination and pain upon urination (dysuria).

How Bladder Cancer Is Diagnosed And Treated

The diagnostic investigation begins with a thorough medical history and a physical examination looking for clues to explain the blood in the urine.

The urine itself can be tested for the presence of bladder cancer cells.

Because hematuria can originate from anywhere in the urinary tract, the doctor may order radiological imaging of the kidneys, ureters and bladder to check for problems in these organs.

The most important diagnostic tool for diagnosing bladder cancer is cystoscopy, a procedure that allows direct visualization of the inside of the bladder. This is commonly performed as an office procedure under local anesthesia. First, a topical anesthetic gel is applied, so the patient will feel little or no discomfort. The doctor then inserts a flexible instrument called a cystoscope through the urethra and into the bladder. By looking through the cystoscope, the doctor is able to examine the bladder's inner surfaces for signs of cancer.

If tumors are present, the doctor notes their appearance, number, location and size. As removal (resection) of the tumors cannot be done under local anesthesia, the patient is scheduled to return for a surgical procedure to remove the tumor . In a manner as before, the doctor inserts an instrument, called a resectoscope, into the bladder. This is a viewing instrument similar to the cystoscope, but contains a wire loop at the end for removing tissue. This procedure is done through the urethra and is called a transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT). The removed tissue is sent to a pathologist for examination.

Further treatment is dependent on the results from the TURBT and may include:

Active surveillance with periodic office cystoscopy

Bladder instillation of medication designed to prevent recurrences

Repeat TURBT to ensure complete resection

Chemotherapy and bladder removal

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy

Your urologist will discuss the best course of management with you following your TURBT.