Bladder cancer

Bladder cancer

The bladder is the part of the urinary system that receives and stores urine from the kidneys. Urine is then released from the bladder through the urethra which leads out of the body.

Cancer is a disease in which cells in an area begin changing and multiplying out of control. The multiplying cells may from a lump of tissue (tumor). With time, the cancer cells destroy healthy tissue and may spread to other parts of the body.

Bladder cancer is strongly linked to cigarette smoking. The longer a person smokes, the greater that person's chances of developing bladder cancer.

Bladder cancer is often detected at the cystoscopy performed when a patient complains of passing blood in the urine. Other symptoms include urinary frequency.

To determine the best way to treat bladder cancer, your doctor checks

  • how deep the cancer has grown and where it has spread (the cancer STAGE)
  • how aggressive the cancer looks and is likely to behave (the cancer GRADE)

The cancer STAGE is determined by performing an examination under anesthesia with a Transurethral Resection of Bladder Tumor (TURBT) and a CT scan of the pelvis. Studying the specimens obtained from the TURBT will tell us how deep the tumor has grown into the bladder wall. The CT will look for signs of cancer spread out of the bladder.

The cancer GRADE is determined from the TURBT specimens. They determine how aggressive the tumor can be and will determine the need for adjunctive treatment. This involves several visits to the doctor's office where the bladder is applied with anti cancer medication.

Bladder cancer begins in the lining of the bladder and often doesn't grow beyond that layer. (Superficial Bladder Cancer). At this stage, it is eminently curable with a Transurethal Resection of Bladder Tumor (TURBT) with/without adjunctive treatment.

If the cancer has invaded the deeper layers of the bladder (Invasive bladder Cancer), treatment will either involve removing the bladder (radical cystectomy) or radiotherapy to the bladder.

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