Bladder cancer is an illness that mostly affects older people. In fact, the average age of diagnosis is 73, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). It is the fourth most common cancer among men. Even so, it is often detected early. There are currently over half a million bladder cancer survivors living in the United States. The bladder is an organ that serves as a temporary holding place for urine before it makes its way out of the body. In most cases, bladder cancer almost always originates in the bladder’s interior cell lining.
Risk Factors and Symptoms
The ACS recognizes certain risk factors associated with developing bladder cancer. This includes smoking, having a personal or family history of bladder cancer or cancer of the urinary tract, being born with bladder abnormalities, previous exposure to chemotherapy or radiation, or low fluid consumption. Bladder cancer is also associated with specific symptoms:
- Blood in the urine
- Frequent urination
- Pain or discomfort while urinating
- Feeling an urgent need to urinate when the bladder is not full.
Treatment of Bladder Cancer
When it comes to treatment, surgery is often part of the plan. For early-stage bladder cancer, a transurethral resection is common. This is a procedure that allows doctors to examine the bladder by way of the urethra. Using an instrument called a resectoscope, doctors can either cut out tumors and other cancerous tissue or destroy them with a high-energy laser. Smaller tumors can also be burned. If the cancer is advanced, part or all of the bladder may have to be removed. If the entire bladder is removed, reconstructive surgery is necessary to restore the body’s ability to store and release urine. Chemotherapy, immunotherapy and/or radiation are also used to treat bladder cancer. This includes localized chemotherapy, which delivers cancer-killing drugs directly to the bladder using a catheter.
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