The urine excreted by the body on an interval is being stored inside the urinary bladder. Shaped like a little balloon, this organ is situated near the pelvis. Cancer in this part of the body does have a high survival chance as long as it is detected early. But once it has metastasized to other organs, then treating it would be a really tall order. This type of cancer has a higher occurrence rate among among elderly people - particularly those who are above 73 years. Surprisingly, the biggest bladder cancer risk factor is smoking. Toxic chemicals and drugs are not far behind.
What Are The Early Symptoms?
Normally, signs and symptoms of bladder cancer are not evident during the disease’s early stages. It is only by the time that the manifestations become apparent that the cancer has probably spread. Initial signs of bladder cancer include Hematuria (blood in the urine), darker discoloration of the urine, and positive blood upon urinalysis. Less definitive findings may include pelvic pain, Oliguria (low urine output), and Dysuria (pain during urination).
How Does It Come About?
On the other hand, cancer is a disease brought about the by an abnormal cell and DNA growth rate of a specific organ. This process is called metastasis. Studies conducted by scientists show that genetics plays an important role in the occurrence of bladder cancer given that this type of cancer is one of the rarest. Generally, cigarette smoking and toxins brought about by food chemicals also contribute to cancer risks. During normal cellular function, cells divide in an orderly and rhythmic manner since it is being partly controlled by healthy DNA. When cell division becomes way too fast, chaotic, and uneven, this is the time when cancer takes place.
Aside from the general ones, other bladder cancer risk factors include age, gender, race, an exposure to radiation, previous history of chemotherapy, arsenic exposure, and chronic inflammation of the bladder. It was also recently discovered that most bladder cancer patients also happen to be chronic cigarette smokers. And by chronic, that means 15 years or more. Another interesting bladder cancer statistic is white males who are above the age of 55 possess the greater risk. This can be further triggered if they have previously been exposed to toxic chemicals.
How Can It Be Diagnosed?
In order to diagnose bladder cancer, a thorough physical examination is performed. This exam may also include a rectal or vaginal internal examination. Additional tests may follow, including urinalysis, Cystoscopy (endoscopic visualization of the bladder), intravenous Pyelogram (X-ray with Radiopaque dye insertion), bladder biopsy, a chromosomal abnormality test, and a tumor detector test. If the presence of cancer is positive or confirmed, a series of staging tests will be performed to determine the extent of the disease process. This also helps determine how aggressively or passively the cancer should be treated.
A plethora of complications may arise when suffering from bladder cancer. All of these require immediate medical intervention. They are anemia, urinary incontinence, and blockage of the ureters. The doctor’s responsibility will be to give temporary or permanent relief to the urinary incontinence.
What Are Necessary Treatments Should Be Done?
Constant interaction between between patient and therapists is extremely vital during cancer treatment. The cancer team is usually made up of the oncologist and a urologist, a doctor specializing in urinary system conditions. During surgery, removal of the cancerous cells as well as a small portion of the bladder may be done. This treatment plan is only applicable to those patients who had their cancer detected early enough. A huge part of the bladder will still remain cancer-free at that point.
In much more complex situations, the complete removal of the bladder may be done. Bladder reconstruction may also take place. During this extensive surgical procedure, a portion of the urethra will be removed together with the lymph nodes. The patients’ capability to have sex and urinate are compromised during the completion of this procedure so it is never used as the first treatment option.
As with most cancers, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the two most prescribed treatment regimes. This is regardless of the stage of the cancer. This increases the possibility of leaving no cancer cells are left behind untreated even after surgery. One method to help prevent the recurrence of bladder cancer is by Biological Therapy. This process involves the injection of same vaccine used to counteract tuberculosis. The vaccine then triggers the immune system to combat any cancer cells that are attempting to return.
The most challenging part of bladder cancer that the patients have to endure is trying to cope with having a Urostomy bag attached to them. These bags do not leak and can be hidden under any loose clothing. But that does not stop most patients from feeling uneasy and insecure when “carrying” the bag around. This is why counseling should most likely be done since the fear of leakage will most likely be present. As a result, the fear of leaving the house is a common thing. The patients’ family and friends (collectively referred to as the “support system”) should actively participate during this process.
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