Bladder Cancer: Fight to Win with Experienced Leaders in Cancer Care
Bladder cancer is the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S., with around 79,000 new cases diagnosed annually. And it’s expected to be responsible for more than 16,000 deaths this year.
What is bladder cancer?
Cancer is the unchecked growth and division of cells. When that abnormal growth and division develops in the bladder, it is bladder cancer. Unfortunately, diagnosis of bladder cancer is often delayed because many people lack symptoms that make them aware of the potential growth — and harm — of bladder cancer.
Who is at risk for getting bladder cancer?
There are several known risk factors for developing bladder cancer:
- Being male – Bladder cancer affects men over women at a rate of 3:1. However, while women are one-third as likely to have bladder cancer, they are more likely to have advanced tumors… and have a worse prognosis.
- Smoking – There are a variety of chemicals in smoke that, when inhaled, are excreted by the body into the urine. This can damage the lining of the bladder, which can increase your risk of developing bladder cancer.
- Age – As you grow older, so grows your risk of developing bladder cancer. Bladder cancer can develop at any age, but it is rarely found in people younger than 40.
- Being Caucasian – Compared to non-whites, Caucasians have an increased risk of developing bladder cancer.
- Exposure to harmful chemicals – Certain toxic chemicals can elevate your risk of bladder cancer because they are filtered (by the kidneys) and stored in the bladder, where they can damage the bladder’s lining.
- Prior cancer treatment – Certain anti-cancer compounds can increase your risk of developing bladder cancer. Your risk is also elevated if you’ve been previously treated with radiation of the pelvic region.
- Medicines for diabetes – Pioglitazone is a compound in certain diabetes medications. Taking it for more than a year can increase your risk for bladder cancer.
- Chronic inflammation – Repeated or chronic urinary tract infections may elevate your risk of squamous cell cancer of the bladder.
- History of cancer – If you have previously had bladder cancer, or have an immediate family member who’s had it, your risk may be elevated.
Are there screening tests for detecting bladder cancer early?
The earlier bladder cancer is found, the better your chances are of fighting it successfully. Urinalysis is the most common test, which checks for blood in the urine. However, there isn’t a recommended screening method for detecting bladder cancer in people who don’t have any symptoms. Also, no method has been found to reduce risk of dying from bladder cancer. Therefore, detecting bladder cancer is a matter of watching for the signs and symptoms.
What are the symptoms of bladder cancer?
When bladder cancer becomes symptomatic, its symptoms are easily noticed. But these symptoms are also symptoms of other medical issues (such as urinary tract infection). So, know the warning signs and watch for them. Then make sure to inform your doctor about them.
The symptoms of bladder cancer include:
- Blood in the urine
- Back and/or pelvic pain
- Leg swelling
- Weight loss
How do doctors treat for bladder cancer?
There are several methods for treating cancer of the bladder. But which one will be most effective and appropriate for you? The answer to that question depends on several factors, which you should plan on discussing thoroughly with your oncologist. Carefully weigh the benefits, risks and side effects in consultation with your doctor when considering these common treatments:
- Transurethral resection – Early stage and non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer can be surgically removed through the urethra in a minimally invasive procedure.
- Cystectomy – Cancer surgeons can remove all or part of the bladder to maximize cure potential.
- Intravesical therapy – Delivering medicine into the bladder enables direct treatment of bladder cells without affecting other areas of the body. Usually used after surgery for bladder cancer that hasn’t invaded the bladder wall.
- Chemotherapy – IV-infused, oral and intravesical delivery of anticancer medications harms cancer cells over multiple treatment sessions.
- Radiation therapy – Like chemotherapy, radiation also harms cancer cells, which don’t recover as well as normal cells. Used as a primary treatment for some cancer types and stages as well as part of a treatment plan using multiple treatment types.
- Immunotherapy – We use certain anti-cancer medications to bolster the immune system’s ability to recognize and fight bladder cancer.
Trust one of the nation’s largest networks of cancer doctors
At Regional Cancer Care Associates, our large team of oncologists across New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut treats bladder cancer with skill, the most advanced treatments, and a uniquely committed, compassionate and community-based approach. Our board-certified cancer specialists understand bladder cancer… and are caring, understanding people dedicated to helping you win your fight.