Today I wanted to focus on a cancer type and it’s the turn of the bladder.
The bladder is a stretchy bag of muscle that stores urine. Urine is made in the kidneys and passed through the urethra into the bladder. The bladder can store up to 500ml of urine (about three cups) and It is made up of several layers.
Cancer of the Bladder:
Bladder cancer is more common in men then in women and it usually takes a long time to develop so it is more common in older people. Cancer of the bladder is very rarely diagnosed in people under the age of forty.
Main Risk Factors:
There are two main risk factors for bladder cancer:
SMOKING – Smokers are six times more likely to develop cancer of the bladder then non smokers as chemicals in cigarette smoke gets into the bloodstream and end up in urine which ends up in the bladder.
CHEMICALS AT WORK – some chemicals in certain industries can also cause bladder cancer but many of these have been banned within the last twenty years, although you may be at risk if you were exposed to them in the past.
OTHER RISK FACTORS: Parasitic bladder infections, for example bilharzia, can also increase the risk of bladder cancer. These are usually seen in developing countries but are not a major cause of bladder cancer in the UK.
Screening and Symptoms:
There currently aren’t any screening tests for bladder cancer but there are some symptoms, which should be checked out by a GP as soon as possible should you suffer from any of them:
*The most common symptom is blood in the urine (haematuria). This is usually not painful and may not always be present in your urine but should always be checked out.
*Needing to pass urine very often
*Needing to pass urine very suddenly
*Pain when passing urine
Diagnosing Bladder Cancer:
A urine test is usually the starting point for diagnosing bladder cancer, although your GP may also wish to do an internal examination which may include placing a gloved finger in your rectum or vagina.
You may also require a cystoscopy which is a thin tube with a light being placed inside your bladder. This tube contains fibre optic cables which allow the specialist to see inside your bladder. You may have local anaesthetic to ease the discomfort. If anything abnormal is detected then you may need a further test under general anaesthetic to allow them to collect tissue samples and snip any small growths. You may also require a CT scan.
Treating Bladder Cancer:
Should you be diagnosed with early bladder cancer then it may be possible for the specialist to remove the cancer via a cystoscopy under general anaesthetic. You may also need chemotherapy to try and prevent the cancer returning. Surgery to remove parts of the bladder may be necessary or chemotherapy and radiotherapy may be used. This will all depend on the type of bladder cancer as well as it’s grading and staging.
I hope this blog post has been informative for you, please visit your GP if you are concerned about anything you have read today and please visit www.cancerresearchuk.org should you like to know more.