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All About Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer is in the top 10 most common cancer types in the US and is the 9th leading cause of cancer mortality. The recent data from the American Cancer Society has demonstrated that bladder cancer is responsible for more than 81,400 new cancer patients this year – across 62,100 men and 19,300 women. It puts enormous pressure on healthcare facilities nationwide and threatens the wellbeing of bladder cancer patients and their families if not treated wisely and with greater care.
What Is Bladder Cancer?
The definition of bladder cancer is a health condition that begins with the development of a tumor in the bladder lining. At a later stage, it can spread further into the bladder tissues and other parts of the body and cause metastases.
There are three types of bladder cancer:
- Urothelial carcinoma. This occurs in the cells inside of the bladder and is the most common type of bladder cancer.
- Squamous cell carcinoma. It involves a chronic irritation of the bladder caused by infections or long use of catheters. This type is more common in countries with very high levels of infectious diseases.
- Adenocarcinoma. It usually happens inside the cells of mucus glands in the bladder.
Another point of concern is linked to arsenic, an element typically found in low-quality drinking water. Finally, active and passive smoking – in particular, cigarettes, but also cigars, pipes, and waterpipes – put you at greater risk for acquiring this condition. The latest statistics show that smoking is responsible for 1 in 3 cases of bladder cancer oncology. This is why the main prevention method would be giving up smoking as early as possible and avoiding harmful substances.
The bladder cancer information from the American Cancer Society indicates that it affects more men than women and usually occurs in patients over the age of 55. However, their average age when addressing the doctor or a healthcare facility for diagnosis is 73, which indicates a late response in most of the cases and a greater need for care or rehabilitation.
What Are the Symptoms of Bladder Cancer?
In most cases, the most frequent symptom of bladder cancer is hematuria or blood in the urine. It causes the urine to look red or brown with or without experiencing the pain while urinating. People with this type of cancer also experience frequent urination, problems passing the urine, and lower back pain.
A urine test prescribed by the general practitioner can help identify blood in the urine that sometimes cannot be visually spotted. If there is further suspicion, the doctor will prescribe a microscope urine exam aimed to search for the cancer cells. The signs of a wide-spread cancer of a later stage include pelvis pain, weight loss, and tiredness.
The first symptoms may appear even when the patient is already at a later stage of bladder cancer, which is when the tumor has spread to muscles or other parts of the body. This is why it is crucial to visit your doctor if you have the smallest suspicion: you notice blood in the urine or experience bladder related discomfort.
Patients that were diagnosed with bladder cancer are in need of treatment as well as symptom relief. Palliative care is a solution that can be used at the beginning of the treatment and throughout the entire process.
How to Treat Bladder Cancer
Depending on the severity of each case and the stage of cancer, the treatment for bladder cancer can range from an operation to radiotherapy. If diagnosed early, the cancer cells can be removed without removing and traumatizing the other parts of the bladder.
A surgery used for this type of intervention is called transurethral resection of a bladder tumor (TURBT). After undergoing the procedure, all patients are following a chemotherapy treatment injected into the bladder, which helps to prevent the recurrence of a tumor. A typical example of a medicine used for chemotherapy is Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG).
If the cancer was caught at a later stage or if it presents a high risk, a cystectomy can be performed in order to surgically remove the bladder and prevent muscle invasion and the occurrence of metastases. Without the bladder, urine collection becomes more challenging and demands extra care.
The most widely used solution is placing a special bag on the external side of the abdomen so that the urine can pass through a small opening. Another way is to reconstruct the bladder by using a part of the patient’s bowel. In some cases, radiotherapy can serve as an alternative to cystectomy. The additional factors in determining what type of treatment a patient can get include their age and expected lifespan, other conditions, stage of bladder cancer, chances of success of a particular treatment, personal feelings, and preferences.
Getting Help With All American Hospice
Some people, especially those at the advanced stages of cancer, may refuse the existing treatments. It is important to know that even if a patient decides to refuse to be treated, supportive care can still be received to help remove the pain, deal with the symptoms, and get a decent quality of life in these complex circumstances. At All American Hospice, our team of compassionate, expert health providers is dedicated to providing services to improve the quality of like of late-stage bladder cancer patients.