Worrying about the possibility of cancer can be a major source of stress. At Urology Care P.C., we understand how this stress can impact your quality of life, and we are here to guide you through your questions, testing, and treatment. If you are concerned about bladder cancer, come see our team.
Most of the time, bladder cancer begins in the inner wall of the lining of the bladder (urothelium or transitional epithelium). If left untreated, it can spread into the deeper layers of the bladder and nearby tissues and lymph nodes. About 50 percent of the time, bladder cancer is found before it spreads beyond the inner layer of the bladder wall. Your provider at Urology Care P.C. will work closely with you to address any concerns you may have about bladder cancer.
Each person’s risk depends on various factors. Although there is no way to completely prevent bladder cancer, being at risk does not mean that you will have bladder cancer.
- Smoking The single biggest risk factor is smoking, which increases your risk for cancer by 3 times. If you would like help quitting smoking, speak with your provider.
- Exposure to chemicals in the workplace Regular exposure to dye, rubber, leather, textiles, paint, printing products, and similar chemicals may increase your risk.
Your age plays a large part in your risk for bladder cancer, and as you age, your risk increases. 9 out of 10 new diagnoses occur after age 55.
Men are more likely to develop bladder cancer than women.
Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
Despite differences in anatomy, the symptoms of bladder cancer for both sexes are similar. Signs may be very mild at first, making them easy to dismiss, but they can include:
- Frequent urination
- Blood in the urine
These symptoms are more likely caused by a urinary tract infection, bladder stones, or an enlarged prostate. However, bladder cancer must be ruled out.
Women may also have a tendency to not recognize blood in the urine if they’re still menstruating or approaching menopause. Therefore, women often delay seeing a doctor.
Diagnosing Bladder Cancer
During an initial examination, your board-certified provider will inquire about your symptoms and conduct a physical exam. This exam will include a prostate exam and, for women, a pelvic exam. Other diagnostic testing may be ordered, such as the following:
- Hematuria evaluation: A complete urinalysis, microscopic examination, and cytology will be performed to look for abnormal cells.
- A cystoscopy: This test involves the insertion of a small scope with a camera into the bladder through the urethra. This is typically an office procedure. Even if the CT/IVP does not reveal bladder abnormalities, it is not a sensitive enough scan to rule out small bladder tumors or abnormalities. Therefore, a cystoscopy is always indicated. Tissue samples may be obtained to check for the presence of abnormal or cancerous cells.
- A biopsy: A biopsy allows your doctor to look at samples of your bladder for cancerous cells. A biopsy can confirm or rule out a bladder cancer diagnosis.
- CT/IVP (Computed tomography scan with intravenous pyelogram): A CT is a special X-ray scan that can help identify bladder or kidney stones, tumors, and other abnormalities of the entire urinary tract.
Treatment depends on the stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis, your overall health, age, and other factors. Your treatment options include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy. You and your provider will determine the best treatment for you as an individual. Some treatments you will likely consider are:
Transurethral resection of bladder tumor
Using a cystoscope, your doctor enters the bladder through the urethra. The tumor can then be removed or destroyed with high-energy electricity.
This is a procedure to remove the cancerous portion of the bladder.
In this surgery, your surgeon removes your entire bladder. If nearby lymph nodes or tissues contain cancer, they can be removed as well. Your surgeon then constructs an alternate route for the passage of urine (urinary diversion).
Immunotherapy uses your own immune system to kill cancer cells. For bladder cancer, the therapy is called BCG (bacillus Calmette-Guérin). Your provider will use a catheter to place the substance into your bladder. A series of treatments has been found to decrease the likelihood of progression and recurrence of bladder cancer. This treatment is indicated for certain stages and presentations of bladder cancer and may help prevent the need for bladder removal.
Even if you had a successful surgery, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy. On occasion, BCG cannot be administered. There are other chemotherapeutic agents that can be instilled into the bladder in similar fashion to BCG.
Under certain circumstances, intravenous chemotherapy may be indicated.
Depending on how advanced your cancer is, your doctor may recommend radiation treatments.
What to Expect After Treatment
Each type of treatment has specific side effects. Your provider will discuss specific post-treatment expectations with you depending on your treatment.
If you notice blood in your urine, especially if it’s painless, get in touch with one of our board-certified providers at Urology Care P.C. for an examination and a personalized comprehensive treatment plan.
To determine what treatment is best for you, please contact us at 520.298.7200 to schedule your appointment.