Bladder Cancer

 

Bladder Cancer Awareness Month & Ribbon
Month July
Ribbon Marigold/Blue/Purple

 

Cancer in the urinary bladder is called bladder cancer. Although known to be more common among older adults, bladder cancer can affect any age and gender. It is curable in the early stages of diagnosis but the recurrence rates are very high.

Signs and Symptoms

Blood in the urine is the most common symptom or sign of bladder cancer. Other symptoms include: pain while urinating, pain in the lower back, frequent urination and pelvic pain.

Treatment

  • Among the treatment modes for bladder cancer, surgery is the commonest option which can cost upwards of $15,000.
  • A transurethral resection –TUR is used to burn away the cancerous cells. If the tumor is large enough then a surgery to remove the same is performed. Sometimes the extreme step of removing the bladder is performed to save the patient. These procedures cost $20,000 to $30,000 per procedure.
  • Immunotherapy is a great way to fight cancer. Here the cancer cells are destroyed by stimulating the body’s own immune system. BCG, interferons like alfa-2b are the most commonly used immune boosters. These therapies are very expensive and cost $60,000 and upwards for a complete 2 month course.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation are the other methods which help fight the disease and cost $60,000.

Causes

Causes of bladder cancer cannot be pinpointed. They could vary from exposure to carcinogens, smoking and excess alcohol consumption, recurrent urinary tract infections and parasitic infections. These conditions are known to affect the genetic makeup of the cells, making them cancerous. It could cause:

  • Transitional cell carcinoma – occurring in the inner lining of the bladder
  • Squamous cell carcinoma – occurring in the squamous cells of the bladder
  • Adenocarcinoma – occurring in the secretary glands of the bladder

Test & Procedures

Screening tests for diagnosing bladder cancer are cystoscopy, where an optical tube is inserted into the urethra to view the inside of the bladder. Along with cystoscopy, the physician may insert a tool to collect a piece of tissue from the bladder lining. The procedure can also be used for treatment of the bladder. Cytology involves examining the urine for cells. Imaging techniques are useful in diagnosis as with other cancer diagnoses.

Side effects

  • Side effects include nausea and vomiting for chemotherapy and acute to permanent hair loss for radiation and chemotherapy.
  • Surgeries carry the risk of infection especially if the patient is immunocompromised.
  • Transplants can lead to rejection and multiple organ failure.
  • Immunotherapy has very mild side-effects mostly due to the excipients and not the active ingredients itself.

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