Bladder Cancer Treatment
What is bladder cancer?
Bladder cancer begins in the cells of the bladder (hollow muscular organ present in the lower abdomen that stores urine). It occurs when cells in the bladder start developing abnormally. These abnormal cells form a tumor.
It mostly begins in the urothelial cells found in your kidneys and the tubes (ureters) and connects the kidneys to the bladder. It is one of the most popular cancers in men and frequently affects older adults. But it can happen at any age. Mostly it is diagnosed in the early stage when the bladder is highly treatable. However, even initial -stage bladder cancer may recur in the bladder.
What are the causes of bladder cancer?
Causes of bladder cancer include:
- Smoking and other tobacco use
- Exposure to chemicals, especially working in a job that needs exposure to chemicals
- Past radiation exposure
- Parasitic infections, particularly in people who are from or have traveled to certain areas outside the United States
What are the types of bladder cancer?
Based on in which type of bladder cell cancer begins, there are 3 types of bladder cancers. Your cancer treatment plan depends on the type of bladder cancer.
Types of bladder cancer include:
• Urothelial carcinoma: Urothelial carcinoma occurs in the cells that line the inside of the bladder. Urothelial cells connect the kidneys to the bladder. These cells get expand when the bladder is full and contract when the bladder is empty. These equivalent cells also present inside of the ureters and the urethra, and hence cancers can form in those places as well.
• Squamous cell carcinoma: This type of bladder cancer is connected with chronic irritation of the bladder like infection or from long-term use of a urinary catheter. It is rare.
• Adenocarcinoma: It begins in cells that form mucus-secreting glands in the bladder. It is very rare.
What are the risk factors of bladder cancer?
Factors that may increase bladder cancer risk include:
• Smoking: Smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes causes the accumulation of harmful chemicals in the bladder and hence puts the person at risk of bladder cancer. When a person smokes, chemicals in the smoke processed by the body are excreted in the urine. These harmful chemicals may damage the lining of the bladder and hence increases the risk of cancer.
• Increasing age: Bladder cancer mostly occurs in older age. Though it can happen at any age, most people diagnosed with bladder cancer are older than 55.
• Being male: Men are having a greater risk of bladder cancer than women.
• Exposure to certain chemicals: Being surrounded by certain chemicals may increase the risk of bladder cancer. Chemicals that increase the risk of bladder cancer include arsenic and chemicals used in the manufacture of dyes, rubber, leather, textiles, and paint products.
• Previous cancer treatment: Use of anti-cancer drug cyclophosphamide in previous cancer treatment increases the risk of bladder cancer. Also, people who got radiation treatments aimed at the pelvis for a previous cancer are at higher risk of developing bladder cancer.
• Chronic bladder inflammation: Chronic bladder inflammations (cystitis) that may occur due to long-term use of a urinary catheter, may increase the risk of a squamous cell bladder cancer.
• Personal or family history of cancer: If you’ve had a history of bladder cancer, you’re more likely to get it again.
What are treatment options available for bladder cancer?
Bladder cancer treatment depends on several factors, like the type of cancer, the grade of cancer, and the stage of cancer. All factors are taken into consideration along with the overall health of the patient and treatment preferences.
Bladder cancer treatment may include:
- Surgery: cancerous tissue is removed surgically.
- Chemotherapy in the bladder (intravesical chemotherapy): It is used to treat tumors that are confined to the lining of the bladder. But it has a huge risk of recurrence or progression to a higher stage
- Reconstruction: In some bladder cancers, a complete bladder is removed and a new way for urine to exit the body is created.
- Chemotherapy for the whole body (systemic chemotherapy): It is used to increase the chance for a cure in a person having surgery to remove the bladder, or as an initial treatment in cases where surgery isn’t an option
- Radiation therapy: Often used as an initial treatment in cases where surgery isn’t an option or isn’t desired.
- Immunotherapy: The body’s own immune system is used to fight cancer cells.