The American Cancer Society estimates that 67,160 new cases of bladder cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. It is a disease that is more common in men and more common among Caucasians than in African-Americans. Men are three times as likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer. When bladder cancer is discovered and treated in its early stages, the chances for survival are very good.
Q: What is the bladder?
Q: Am I at risk?
- Exposure to carcinogens in the workplace, such as paints and solvents
- Smokers develop bladder cancer two-to-three times as often as nonsmokers.
- Smoking is estimated to be the cause of about 47% of bladder cancers in men and 37% in women.
- People who feel that they may be at risk for developing bladder cancer should speak with their physician.
Q: What are the symptoms?
A: Common symptoms of bladder cancer include the following:
- Blood in the urine
- Pain during urination
- Frequent urination
- Feeling the need to urinate, but without actual results
- Lower back pain
Since other health problems may cause these symptoms, it is important to consult your physician to receive an accurate diagnosis.
Q: How is bladder cancer diagnosed?
- Physical examination – The physician feels the abdomen and pelvis for tumors; the examination may include the rectum or vagina.
- Urine tests –Laboratory examination of the urine for color, contents (i.e. sugar, protein, red blood cells, white blood cells), blood (hematuria), cancer cells (abnormal cellularity), and other signs of disease
- Imaging tests – These tests allow a physician to visualize organs on a monitor or on film and may include MRI, X-ray, CT scan and/or ultrasound; a dye may be injected or swallowed to make the organs/tissues more visible during these procedures.
- Cystoscopy – A thin, lighted tube (cystoscope) is inserted through the urethra into the bladder to detect abnormalities; the physician may excise as tissue sample (biopsy) for subsequent pathological examination – often the only method of definitively diagnosing bladder cancer.
Q: Do I have a choice of treatment?
- Surgery – depending upon the stage and grade of the tumor:
- Transurethral resection
- Radical cystectomy
- Segmental cystectomy
- Radiation therapy:
- External radiation
- Internal radiation
- Biological therapy
Your physician is the best person to discuss treatment choices and expected results. It is essential that you to confer with your physician in order to enable him or her to develop the most effective treatment plan – one that is specifically tailored to your needs.