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Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that is common in both men and women. If left unchecked, this condition can cause sexual dysfunction in both men and women. Check out the full review starting from the symptoms, causes, to how to treat it in the following review.

Bladder Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What is Bladder Cancer?

Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that starts when the cells that make up the bladder start to grow out of control. As more cancer cells develop, they can form tumors and over time can spread to other parts of the body.

Symptom Bladder Cancer

Blood in the urine (hematuria) is the most common symptom of this cancer and is usually painless. You may see streaks of blood in your urine or blood may turn your urine brown. Blood may not always be visible and may appear and disappear.

The following are less common symptoms, including:

  • The urge to urinate more frequently.
  • Sudden urge to urinate.
  • Burning sensation when urinating.

If bladder cancer reaches an advanced stage and has spread, symptoms may include:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Bone pain.
  • Unintentional weight loss.
  • leg swelling

When is the Right Time to See a Doctor?

If they are present in the urine (even if they appear and disappear), you should see a doctor so that the cause can be investigated. Having blood in your urine doesn’t necessarily mean you have bladder cancer. There are other, more common causes, including:

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI), such as cystitis.
  • Kidney infection.
  • Rock urinary tract like a stone kidney.
  • Non-gonorrheal urethritis.
  • Enlarged prostate gland.

Bladder Cancer Causes

Bladder cancer begins to develop when cells in the bladder develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. This change will tell cells to multiply rapidly and continue living when healthy cells would die.

Need to know, The cell’s DNA contains instructions that tell the cell what to do. The abnormal cells then form tumors that can invade and destroy normal body tissue. Over time, abnormal cells can break off and spread (metastasize) throughout the body.

Risk Factors

A number of factors can increase the risk of bladder cancer, including:

  • Smoking is the single biggest risk factor for bladder cancer. This is because tobacco contains cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogenic).
  • Exposure to certain industrial chemicals is the second highest risk factor.
  • Radiotherapy to treat previous cancer near the bladder, such as bowel cancer.
  • Previous treatment with certain chemotherapy drugs, such as cyclophosphamide and cisplatin.
  • Having certain treatments for type 2 diabetes.
  • Having a tube in the bladder (indwelling catheter) for a long time, due to nerve damage resulting in paralysis.
  • Long-term or recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  • Long term bladder stones.
  • An untreated infection called schistosomiasis (bilharzia) is caused by a parasite in fresh water.

Also Read: Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

Doctors and medical personnel will usually carry out a series of tests to diagnose conditions, including:

  • Urinalysis: Doctors use various tests to analyze urine. This procedure may be done to get rid of an infection.
  • Cytology: Examination of cells under a microscope to look for signs of cancer.
  • Cystoscopy: This is the primary test for identifying and diagnosing bladder cancer. For this test, the doctor uses a pencil-sized light tube called a cystoscope to look inside the bladder and urethra. The doctor may use a fluorescent dye and a special blue light that makes it easier to see cancer in the bladder. Doctors can also take tissue samples during this procedure.

If the results of these three tests indicate that the patient has bladder cancer, the doctor then performs tests to learn more about the cancer, including:

  • Transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT): The doctor will perform this procedure to remove a bladder tumor as an additional test. The TURBT procedure can also be a treatment, removing bladder tumors before they invade the muscular wall of the bladder. This test is an outpatient procedure.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This imaging test uses magnets, radio waves, and a computer to take detailed pictures of the bladder.
  • Computed tomography scan (CT scan): The doctor may do this test to see if the cancer has spread beyond the bladder.
  • Chest X-ray: This test allows the doctor to check for signs of bladder cancer that has spread to the lungs.
  • Bone scan: Like a chest X-ray, a bone scan to check for signs that bladder cancer has spread to the bones.

Also Read: Radiotherapy: Purpose, Types, Procedures, and Cost

Types of Bladder Cancer

Basically, where the cancer starts determines which type it has. Doctors may use this information to determine the most suitable treatment.

Several types of bladder cancer, including:

  • Urothelial carcinoma. This type, formerly called transitional cell carcinoma, occurs in the cells that line the inside of the bladder. Urothelial cells expand when the bladder is full and contract when the bladder is empty.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma. It is associated with chronic irritation of the bladder, for example from infection or long-term use of urinary catheters.
  • Adenocarcinoma. This type begins in the cells that make up the mucus-secreting glands in the bladder. Adenocarcinoma of the bladder is very rare.

Bladder Cancer Treatment

Treatment for this condition depends on a number of factors, including the type of cancer, cancer grade, and stage of the cancer, to overall health.

The following are various treatments that can be done, including:

  • Surgery. This procedure, which is commonly performed to treat the bladder, aims to remove cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy in the bladder (intravesical chemotherapy). This action is to treat cancer that is limited to the lining of the bladder but has a high risk of recurring or progressing to a higher stage.
  • Chemotherapy for the whole body (systemic chemotherapy). Measures to increase the chances of healing in patients undergoing bladder removal surgery, or as a primary treatment when surgery is not an option.
  • Radiation therapy. This treatment is to destroy cancer cells; often as the primary treatment when surgery is not an option or not desirable.
  • Immunotherapy. Treatment to trigger the immune system to fight cancer cells, both in the bladder and throughout the body.
  • Targeted therapy. Therapy to treat advanced cancer when other treatments have not helped.

In some cases, a combination of the above treatments may be recommended by your doctor as part of your treatment.

Bladder Cancer Complications

Over time, this condition can spread to nearby organs. Cancer cells can also invade the pelvic lymph nodes and spread to the liver, lungs and bones.

The following are possible complications that can occur:

Also Read: Prostate Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Bladder Cancer Prevention

While there’s no sure way to help prevent bladder cancer, you can take steps to help reduce your risk.

The following are tips to help reduce the risk of developing this cancer, including:

  • Do not smoke. If you are a smoker, talk to your doctor about a plan to help you quit the habit.
  • Be careful around chemicals. If you work with chemicals, follow all safety instructions to avoid chemical exposure.
  • Consume a variety of fruits and vegetables. Choose a diet rich in a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. The content of antioxidants in fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of cancer.
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  4. Gersten, Todd. 2022. Blader cancer. (Accessed February 16, 2023)

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