What is the bladder?
Bladder is the organ which enables the accumulation and discharge of the urine.
What is bladder cancer?
It is the uncontrolled proliferation of cells that form the bladder. If the proliferation is limited to the superficial layer of the bladder, then it is called superficial bladder cancer. If the proliferation is deeper and penetrates into the muscle layer, it will be called as deep (invasive) bladder cancer. Bladder cancer that has penetrated into the muscle layer may invade surrounding tissue. It may spread to distant tissues, such as the lungs, via the circulation.
Which complaints are observed in a patient with bladder cancer?
Blood in the urine, pain during urination (dysuria) and frequent urinating are the common symptoms of bladder cancer. These symptoms are not the definite symptoms of bladder cancer. Similar complaints are observed in many diseases. However, blood in the urine (hematuria) is a significant symptom and it should be confirmed whether the patient has bladder cancer or not.
Who would have bladder cancer?
Although bladder cancer can be seen in any age group, it is usually a disease of advanced age. It is commonly observed in patients aged over 60 years. It is 3 times more common in men. Smoking is one of the most significant causative factors of the bladder cancer. The probability of bladder cancer in smokers is 10 times higher. Genetic tendency is also responsible for the bladder cancer. It has been shown to occur more in people working with chemical substances, dye and rubber and in the leather industry. The risk of developing bladder cancer increases in relapsing urinary tract infections, long-term stone disease and in patients who have long-term urinary catheter.
Which examinations can be done in a patient who is considered to have bladder cancer?
Examination in female. A urine test can be ordered. Urinary system ultrasonography may be performed in necessary cases. Your doctor may want to look directly into your bladder using an endoscopic method called cystoscopy in suspected cases.
What are the treatment methods for the bladder cancer?
The treatment of bladder cancer varies depending on the stage and the degree of the cancer and the overall condition of the patient. Doctors may suggest one or more treatment methods in accordance with the condition of each patient.
Surgery is the general treatment method of bladder tumors. Superficial bladder cancers are both diagnosed and treated with a procedure called TUR (Transurethral Resection) where the bladder cancer is excised in a closed method. TUR requires anesthesia Yet; TUR is not sufficient in deep bladder cancers. In such case, the bladder, the prostate and the neighboring accessory glands in male and ovaries, womb (uterus) and a part of the vagina along with surrounding lymph tissues in female are removed. A new way to discharge the urine from the body is established.
Radiotherapy (irradiation treatment), may sometimes be applied before and after the surgery or along with the chemotherapy. Chemotherapy means the use of medication to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be used for the treatment following the TUR. The drug is administered into the bladder in this treatment called intra-bladder chemotherapy. The treatment is usually performed once a week for 6 weeks. Intra-bladder chemotherapy is only applied to superficial cancers. Chemotherapy is also used for the treatment of metastatic cancers, which means the cancer spreads beyond the bladder and invades other organs. In this case, anti-cancer medication can be administered directly from the veins or the mouth. Chemotherapy can be used alone or with surgery. Immunotheraphy (biologic treatment) is used in superficial bladder cancers. It is used to prevent recurrence. This form of treatment is applied by administering the substance called BCG which triggers the defense system of the individual into the bladder. Such medication is kept in the bladder for 2 hours. The treatment is applied once a week for 6 weeks and may be extended if required.
Can superficial bladder cancers relapse?
Superficial bladder cancers may relapse. As the relapse usually happen at the former location of the superficial cancer, it may happen at a different location of the bladder. Generally, they do not spread to other parts of the body and they are similarly treated. Due to the recurrence frequency of the bladder cancer, such patients must come for regular checks.
What is done for the follow up of bladder cancers?
Close follow up forms the major part of the treatment in patients with bladder cancer. If the bladder is not removed in patients with bladder cancer, the bladder is examined using a cystoscope in regular intervals. Blood tests, urine tests, computerized tomography and lung graph may also be used for follow up.