Bladder cancer: Symptoms, causes, treatment. All you want to know
- Bladder cancer is the ninth most common malignancy worldwide, affecting nearly 4,30,000 people every year. All you want to know about its signs and symptoms.
Bladder cancer, the ninth most common malignancy worldwide, begins when the bladder's lining (urothelial) cells start to grow abnormally and out of control. The bladder is a hollow, muscular and elastic organ. The urinary bladder collects and stores urine from the kidneys.
Urothelial cells are also found in your kidneys and the tubes or ureters that connect the kidneys to the bladder. Urothelial cancer can happen in the kidneys and ureters, too, but it's much more common in the bladder.
Dr Pankaj N. Maheshwari, Senior Consultant and Chief Urologist, Fortis Hospitals, Mulund explains the symptoms and causes of bladder cancer and the precautions that must be followed to avoid getting it.
Symptoms of bladder cancer
Blood in urine: This should be a cause for alarm for you and a screening is a must in case there is blood in your urine, especially after the age of 40.
Frequent and painful urination: If you are facing any kind of difficulty in passing urine, a doctor should be consulted immediately.
Abdominal, lower back pain: This is another sign that should not be ignored.
Urinary incontinency or loss of bladder control: This is one of the indicators that all is not well with your bladder.
"The significant risk factors for bladder cancer include tobacco smoking, industrial exposure to potential carcinogens such as aromatic amines and carbon black dust, long-term drinking of arsenic-contaminated or chlorinated water, and family history of prostate, endometrial and bladder cancer," says Dr Maheshwari.
Causes of bladder cancer
Smoking: Smoking is not just responsible for oral and lung cancer. Smoking cigarettes, cigars and even pipes can cause bladder cancer, as certain harmful chemicals excrete out of the body through urine. This, in turn, damages and deteriorates the bladder lining, thus increasing cancer chances.
Gender: Men are more likely to develop this cancer in their lifetime than women.
Exposure to chemicals: Kidneys play a primary role in filtering harmful substances from our bodies and bloodstream. Thus, exposure to arsenic, aromatic amines, chemicals used to manufacture dyes, rubber, leather, etc., is detrimental to health.
Personal or family history of bladder cancer is another highly probable risk factor for the disease.
Urinary Tract infections or bladder problems: Frequent bladder inflammation or infections and bladder stones may go on to cause bladder cancer
Apart from basic pathology evaluation, CT scan and endoscopic examination (Cystoscopy) are used for diagnosis.
Treatment depends on the stage of the disease. Early and superficial tumours may be managed endoscopically, but once it grows inside the bladder wall, removal of the bladder becomes necessary.
*One is advised to make lifestyle changes to prevent risk of the disease. To initiate lifestyle changes, one must avoid or, consider quitting smoking.
*Drink lots of fluids because when a person urinates, they get rid of the harmful chemicals that initiate and cause cancer growth.
*If your job requires you to be around chemicals, take necessary precautions to protect yourself.
*Include plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables, rich in antioxidants, macro and micronutrients, in your diet.
*Finally, being observant of the colour of urine and symptoms can be instrumental in saving lives.
(Inputs from Dr Pankaj N. Maheshwari, Senior Consultant and Chief Urologist, Fortis Hospitals, Mulund)