The Most Common Cancers: #6 Bladder Cancer
In recent years, the number of bladder cancer cases has steadily increased. About 55,000 men and 18,000 women will be diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2013 estimates the National Cancer Institute, making it the sixth most common cancer in the United States.
Bladder cancer occurs in patients who are mostly over the age of 70. It is characterized by uncontrolled and rapid cell growth in the organ where urine is stored.
Nearly 90 percent of all cases originate in the inner lining of the bladder, or the urothelium. Cancer of this layer is called transitional cell cancer (TCC).
As with other cancers, the exact cause of TCC is not known. However, research shows that changes in a cell’s DNA are involved. Your likelihood of developing the disease is also linked to your exposure to certain risk factors.
Cigarette smoking is the primary one. It is linked to most of the cases of bladder cancer. There is also a link to how long a person has smoked: the longer someone has smoked, the higher the risk.
Workers who have been exposed to certain cancer-causing chemicals at their jobs have a higher likelihood of developing the disease as well. Industries with high-risk workers include:
Research also shows occupations that have a higher risk than others. They include hairdressers, machinists, printers, painters, and truck drivers.
People who have a family history of TCC, or who have previously had it themselves, are more likely to develop the disease. In addition, people who have had other cancers and have received certain drugs such as cyclophosphamide, or who have received radiation therapy, may also be at risk.
The primary symptom is blood in the urine, which will give it a rusty or dark red color. Other indications include feeling pain when you urinate or having to go often. You may also feel the need to urinate without results, which makes you feel as if you need to bear down when emptying your bladder.
If you experience any of these symptoms, your doctor will perform a number of tests to determine the problem. The first is a urine test, which will check for cancer cells and other disease indicators. Your physician may also prescribe a cystoscopy, which involves inserting a small, lighted tube with a lens through your urethra. This lets the doctor see into your bladder. If a mass or tumor is recognized, the doctor can perform a biopsy during the procedure. The tissue sample is then analyzed to determine if it is cancerous.
If a malignant tumor is found, treating the disease will depend on the following concerns: the tumor’s location, whether or not it has penetrated the surrounding muscle layer, if the cancer has spread, and the patient’s age.
The grade of the tumor also influences the type of treatment a patient might receive. A tumor receives a grade based on how much the cells differ from the original bladder tissue. A high grade means a greater difference, or a more developed cancer. Such a grade also suggests a faster cancer growth.
TCC can be dangerous if left untreated. These cells can break away from the tumor and spread through blood and lymph vessels to the liver, lungs, and bones. However, because of the obvious nature of the symptoms, most cases are found and treated early, which is the key to a successful outcome.
Treatment can include surgery to remove the malignancy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and biological therapy. It is possible that a patient might receive more than one type of treatment to beat this disease.