Facts You Should Know About Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer is a condition in which cells in the urinary bladder experience uncontrolled growth. This cellular growth results in a tumor that can gradually impinge on the healthy tissues in the bladder.1 In some cases, the appearance of a cancerous tumor in the bladder may be the result of metastasis, which is the transfer of cancer from adjacent tissue.2 Otherwise, bladder cancer is caused by the generation of a new tumor.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 80,470 people in the United States will be diagnosed with bladder cancer in 20193, which makes learning about this condition all the more important. In this guide, we’ll inform you of some of the warning signs of bladder cancer and touch on some common treatments for this condition.
Common Warning Signs
When bladder cancer is still in its early stages, it can be hard to diagnose. Many types of tumors are relatively painless when they are small, but there are a few ways that you can find bladder cancer early and improve your chances of recovery.4
While your cancer remains localized to your bladder, you may experience symptoms such as blood in your urine or painful urination. Even if you don’t experience any of these immediately noticeable symptoms, uncontrolled or frequent urination can sometimes also be an early sign of bladder cancer, and you should have a bladder cancer screening if you notice that you need to urinate more frequently.5
In most cases, early forms of bladder cancer will cause blood to be present in your urine, but this condition may not have any other symptoms. Even if you aren’t experiencing any pain, it’s important to see a doctor right away if you notice any early warning signs of bladder cancer.
Advanced Warning Signs
As bladder cancer becomes more advanced, your symptoms will worsen. You may start to experience continuous lower back pain and may be unable to urinate. In addition, you might suffer a loss of appetite, and may feel tired and weak. Other symptoms of advanced bladder cancer include swelling in the feet and bone pain.
If your bladder cancer spreads to other parts of your body, you may experience general abdominal pain, and you may contract a persistent cough. In your skin tone becomes yellowish, this may be a symptom of jaundice and would indicate that your cancer has spread to your liver.
Once these symptoms set in, it may be impossible to treat your cancer. With the right team of medical professionals and the right treatment, however, you may still be able to force your disease into remission.
How Is Bladder Cancer Diagnosed?
If your doctor is concerned that you may have bladder cancer, he or she will use a variety of techniques to diagnose your cancer and determine the stage of your condition. The first step in diagnosing bladder cancer is usually a urine test. If any blood is apparent in this urine sample, your doctor will order a urine cytology test. This test will determine whether or not there are any tumor cells in your urine.
Depending on the results of your urine test, your doctor may perform a cystoscopy, which involves the insertion of a flexible, lighted tube into your urethra. With this tube, your doctor will be able to see the inside of your bladder. Your doctor will use this procedure to detect the presence of tumors in your urethra. A full cystoscopy exam can be performed in your doctor’s office, and it does not require anesthesia.
If your doctor is still unsure about your diagnosis, he or she may perform a biopsy of your bladder tumor and bladder muscle near the tumor. This procedure is called a transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT). It is used to determine the type of tumor you have and how deeply it is attached to your bladder muscles.
To determine whether or not your bladder cancer has spread to other parts of your body, your doctor may order a variety of imaging scans. Depending on your situation, your doctor may order a CT scan, an MRI, a PET scan, or an ultrasound.6
How Is Bladder Cancer Treated?
In some cases, a cancerous bladder tumor may be removed with a simple TURBT procedure. A number of other types of surgery may also be used including a pelvic lymph node dissection or a radical cystectomy.
For men, radical cystectomy involves the complete removal of the bladder and, in many cases, the prostate and urethra as well. In women, the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and part of the vagina may be removed in this procedure. Pelvic lymph node dissection involves the removal of the lymph nodes that are adjacent to the bladder.
Once the bladder is removed, a procedure called urinary diversion is performed to give urine a new way to pass out of the body. In some cases, a urinary bag may be worn outside the body, but it is becoming increasingly common to create a new bladder on the inside of the body that is made from intestinal tissue.
Radical cystectomy can have serious long-term complications such as infection, urine leaks, erectile dysfunction, or loss of sensation in the sexual organs. Alternatively, patients with bladder cancer can undergo chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or radiation therapy.
Intravesical chemotherapy involves the injection of anti-cancer drugs directly into the bladder. Systemic chemotherapy is either applied by intravenous injection or oral application. Immunotherapy is another potential therapy for bladder cancer that involves the boosting of the immune system to fight back against cancer cells. In some cases, oncologists may also suggest the use of radiation therapy, which uses high-energy rays to destroy tumors.7
Bladder cancer is a formidable foe, but if you remain calm and proceed accordingly, your chances of fighting back against this condition are good as long as you catch it early. If you have any reason to suspect that you have bladder cancer, consult with your doctor immediately — an abundance of caution will pay off if you’re able to survive your condition because you took swift action.
Some advocates of alternative medicine have classified conventional, allopathic treatments for bladder cancer as the “cut, poison, and burn” approach. Like most aspects of modern medical science, conventional treatments for bladder cancer seek to eradicate the symptoms of this condition without addressing the root causes. If you’re concerned that allopathic medicine isn’t the best approach to treating your cancer, there are a few alternative treatment methods at your disposal.8
For instance, some experts believe that diet may be a big part of fighting cancer.9 In particular, the ketogenic diet has specifically been identified as potentially effective against cancer. The Gerson Diet is another form of complementary cancer treatment that involves coffee enemas and the consumption of fresh fruit.10
Any action that improves your overall health and well-being may improve your ability to fight your bladder cancer. For instance, practices like acupuncture, tai chi, massage therapy, and biofeedback may all assist you in forcing your cancer into remission. Before trying any type of alternative treatment, do plenty of research and consult with your doctor.