What is Bladder Cancer?
Bladder cancer occurs when there is abnormal cell growth in the urinary bladder. About 90-95% of the cancers begin from the inner lining of the bladder (urothelium or transitional epithelium) and hence they are known as urothelial or transitional cell carcinoma.
When this abnormal cell growth is still within the inner lining of the bladder, it is called superficial bladder cancer. When the growth invades the muscular layers of the bladder and enters the surrounding tissues, organs and lymph nodes, it is known as invasive cancer of the bladder.
The earliest sign of bladder cancer is hematuria without pain and other urinary symptoms. Drinking large amounts of fluid, water in particular may reduce the risk of developing bladder cancer.
Causes of Bladder Cancer
Although it is not entirely clear what causes bladder cancer, there have been a number of risk factors that have been associated with it.
They include smoking, working in industries that deal with paints, dyes, petroleum products and some metals, consumption of water with high levels of arsenic, taking the diabetes medication pioglitazone for more than a year, a history of recurrent bladder infections and irritation due to long-standing catheter use and in some cases chronic inflammation caused by the parasitic infection known as schistosomiasis.
Bladder Cancer Facts
- About 50 percent of bladder cancer cases are detected in the superficial stage. One-third when the cancer is in the deeper layers but still within the bladder and the remaining only when it has spread to other tissues and lymph nodes.
- Cancers detected after they have spread to distant parts of the body comprise only 4% of the total bladder cancers.
- According to the American Cancer Society, there were about 79,000 new bladder cancer cases in the United States and around 17,000 deaths due to the same in 2016.
- In India, we have close to 2.5 million people suffering from common cancers with more than 5 lakh deaths. Bladder cancer comprises of 4.2% of the total cancer cases seen in India.
- A person with bladder cancer has a five-year survival rate as high as 77% as per the National Cancer Institute of United States. The lowest five-year survival rate of 15% was seen in patients affected by stage 4 (advanced) bladder cancer.
- Bladder cancer mostly occurs in people older than 55.
- Men are 3 - 4 times more at risk to acquire bladder cancer compared to women.
- Whites in Northern America and Europe are more often diagnosed with bladder cancer than other races in regions like Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
- While treating bladder cancer, staging of the condition is important to identify the treatment modality and the prognosis of the condition. The staging starts from 0 and goes up to stage 4.
- Existing treatment modalities for cancer include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgical techniques. The treatment team might comprise of a urologist, a radiation oncologist or a medical oncologist depending on the treatment plan.
- To remove small cancers restricted to the inner linings of the bladder, transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) is performed. A small wire loop is inserted into the bladder using a cystoscope and an electric current is passed to burn the cancer cells.
- Partial cystectomy is a surgical technique used in conditions of low grade tumors where complete removal of the bladder will not be required; only a certain portion of the bladder undergoes resection. Radical cystectomy on the other hand involves the complete removal of the bladder that is affected by the cancer and the nearby affected lymph nodes and organs.
- Biological therapy or immunotherapy involves the use of certain biological molecules that affect the tumor growth and progression. In bladder cancer, the technique involves the application of a solution of a bacterium used in tuberculosis vaccines called bacillus Calmette-Guérin inside the bladder using a catheter.
- Presently clinical trials are being conducted to identify measures for screening of bladder cancers and urothelial cancers.
- There is a chance for recurrence of bladder cancer after treatment; hence frequent checkups are required and one should adopt a healthy lifestyle to prevent recurrence.
- What Is Cancer? - (https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/what- is-cancer)
- Bladder Cancer Treatment - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0032729/)
- Key Statistics for Bladder Cancer - (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/bladdercancer/detailedguide/bladder-cancer-key-statistics)
- Cancer Statistics in India - (http://www.cancerindia.org.in/cp/index.php/know-about-cancer/statistics)
- Cancer in India: Prevalence, Management and Outcome Management and Outcome - (http://www.euindiacoop.org/2009/downloads/subrata_sinha.pdf)
- Survival Rates for Bladder Cancer - (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/bladdercancer/detailedguide/bladder-cancer-survival-rates)
- Bladder Cancer Prevention & Risk Factors - (https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/types/bladder/bladder-prevention-risk-factors)
- Can Bladder Cancer Be Prevented? - (https://www.cancer.org/cancer/bladder-cancer/causes-risks- prevention/prevention.html)