Bladder Cancer

The bladder is an organ that can hold urine before squeezing it out of the body. It’s a part of your body that gives you the sensation of urine being held. 

Now let’s move on to the disease, when the cells making up the bladder, start to grow out of control. The condition is called bladder cancer. As more cancer cells develop, a lump of irregularly formed cells called a tumor is formed. With time, they spread to other parts of the body.

Symptoms of bladder cancer include:

  1. Blood or blood clots in the urine.
  2. Pain or burning sensation during urination.
  3. Frequent urination.
  4. Feeling the need to urinate many times throughout the night.
  5. Feeling the need to urinate, but not being able to pass urine.
  6. Lower back pain on 1 side of the body.

Now let’s talk about the stages of bladder cancer.

The stages are a way to describe where cancer is located, where it has spread, and if it is affecting other parts of the body.

There are many systems to designate the stage of the patient in their cancer. One such staging system is the TNM system. Now let’s discuss the system in depth.

T in the TNM stands for tumor. The metric quantifies how large is the primary tumor and where and how many tumors are there in the body.

N stands for nodes. It measures if the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes. If it has, then how many lymph nodes have been affected, and where are those nodes that have been affected?

Generally, a diagnostic test is done to figure out those metrics and the result is laid out in stages 1 to 4.   

Another term used to describe a condition of cancer is ‘grade’. The grade describes what percentage of cancer cells look healthy under a microscope. Accordingly, the result is described in terms of low-grade cancer and high-grade cancer. Low-grade cancer has a lower likelihood to recur than high-grade cancer.

Bladder cancer has more likelihood to develop after the age of 40. Although it may develop before that age if the patient has been a chain smoker.

Diagnostic tests to determine bladder cancer:

  1. Cystoscopy: A special tool that has a lens fitted to its front part is inserted through a patient’s vulva or penis. The scope passes through a tube called the urethra to the bladder. The image of the structure of the bladder is seen by the doctor to find the signs of cancer.
  2. Biopsy: The scope mentioned above can have a tool passed through it that collects a small sample of the tumor to later diagnose the kind of tumor that has formed. The tumor may be malignant which means it’s cancerous or benign which means that the tumor is not cancerous.
  3. Examination of urine sample: The urine sample is studied under a microscope to find signs of cancerous cells there.
  4. Imaging tests: To study the inner structure of the bladder, tests like CT scans could be done by a doctor.

Treatments for bladder cancer.

Like most kinds of cancer, if diagnosed and treated earlier in the stages of cancer development, it’s curable. Some of the treatments involved are:

  1. Tumors could be removed by an endoscope. 
  2. If the tumor is deep inside the muscles, then the bladder has to be removed by laparoscopy and rebuilt from an intestine segment.