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Bladder cancer is a terrible disease that can affect your bladder. This organ is the one found in your lower pelvis. It contains muscular yet flexible walls that can stretch significantly to contain urine then squeeze together to force the urine out of your body. The main job of your bladder is to store this urine, a liquid form of waste processed by the kidneys. The urine gets carried down to the bladder from the kidneys in two tubes known as the ureters.
Bladder cancer itself occurs when the cells making up the urinary bladder begin to grow rapidly and beyond control. As a greater and greater number of these cancer cells multiply, they are able to form into a tumor. Over time, they can then spread the cancer out to other regions of your body.
The majority of cancers in the bladder begin life in the inner lining of the bladder. This is known as the transitional epithelium, or the urothelium. When the cancer begins to expand into the next layers in the wall, it morphs into a more advanced and higher stage form of cancer that gets more difficult to treat effectively.
In time, this cancer can expand beyond the bladder into other close areas of the body. It could get into the lymph nodes nearby or even to farther away organs and sections of your body. Bladder cancer has a tendency to expand on into your lungs, bones, liver, and faraway lymph nodes if it not dealt with and treated in time.
The cancer of the bladder is typically described on the distance it has spread within the bladder walls. There are two forms. Invasive cancers have expanded beyond to deeper layers of the wall. Such a cancer is more difficult to treat and increasingly likely to spread. Non invasive forms remain within the cells' inner layer. They will not have expanded to the deeper wall layers yet.
Another way that the medical profession describes bladder cancer is based on it being either superficial or non-muscle invasive. Such terminology covers tumors that are non invasive and other invasive types of tumors that did not expand to the bladder's main muscle layer.
The cancer of the bladder has yet another subdivision. This is either flat or papillary, dependent on the form of growth. The flat carcinoma will not expand to the part of the bladder that is hollow. This flat tumor can often lie in only the inner bladder cell's layer. In this form, it is called a non invasive flat carcinoma.
Papillary carcinomas expand in finger like slim projections out of the bladder's inner surface to the hollow center of the organ. These tumors typically expand into the bladder center without affecting the bladder's deeper layers. Such tumors would be referred to as non invasive papillary cancers. When they are slowly growing and non invasive, they are typically referred to as low malignant potential papillary urothelial neoplasms, or PUNLMP. These typically have very good end results for treatment.
In cases where the flat tumor or papillary tumor expands deeper into the bladder layers, this is known as invasive urothelial carcinoma, or a transitional cell.
The symptoms of bladder cancer are such that it is often easy to find and address early. This stems from the primary blood in the urine symptom that will worry a person enough to see his or her doctor immediately.
Blood occurring in the urine is typically the initial sign and symptom of the cancer. If there is enough of it, it will not just change the urine to orange or pink, but even to a dark red. Sometimes the color will not change so much yet smaller quantities of blood can be found through a urinalysis test. This could be triggered from either other symptoms or in a physical examination. The blood could appear one day and be gone the next one. With bladder cancer though, this blood will always reappear.
Fortunately for those with bladder cancer, the bleeding does not cause pain to speak of or other worse symptoms. Just because you have blood within your urine, this does not necessarily mean that you have the cancer. It could also result from kidney stones, benign tumors, kidney disease, or a simple infection. It should always be checked when such a symptom appears though.
Other more advanced symptoms of bladder cancer include the following:
Again it is important to note that such symptoms are also more frequently caused because of a urinary tract infection, an overactive bladder, an enlarged prostate, or bladder stones. Whatever the cause, it does need to be addressed and properly treated.
Advanced bladder cancer has its own particular set of symptoms. These worsen as the cancer grows or spreads throughout the body. They include the following signs:
Once again, you should remember that such symptoms could have a wide range of ailments underlying them besides a bladder cancer. Yet in any event, they need to be checked by a medical professional as they are likely signs of something serious occurring within your body.
The good news is that bladder cancer is highly treatable, particularly if it is caught early on in its development. The treatment depends on how advanced the cancer stage is when it is caught. Such bladder cancer treatments may include any of the following as appropriate to the stage:
There are a wide range of common approaches to treatment for bladder cancer. It is likely that the most optimal treatment will cover more than a single form of treatment. Surgery is a common one, often in conjunction with other treatments. When the bladder tumors are early stage, they can commonly be taken out successfully. A serious worry for individuals who suffer from this early stage form of bladder cancer lies in the fact that newer cancers will often appear in other sections of the bladder given enough time.
There is a means of avoiding this recurrence. It is called radical cystectomy. This involves removing your entire bladder as a means of ensuring that the cancer does not come back. If you opt to allow your bladder to remain, then doctors will try a range of other treatments in an effort to lower the risk of additional cancers forming within it.
Regardless of if other treatments are pursued, you should ensure that close follow up continues. It is important to be vigilant for any additional symptoms that mean new cancer has appeared in your bladder. There is a great deal of support available for bladder cancer survivors (and ongoing research) at bladdercancersupport.org.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author. This content has not been paid for by any advertiser nor does WhipCancer.org recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. WhipCancer.org does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and information contained on this site is intended for informational purposes only. Please seek the advice of your physician or other professional healthcare provider with any questions you may have.
Bladder cancer usually starts in the lining or inner layer of the bladder wall. As the cancer grows through the layers of the bladder wall, it becomes harder to treat. The "transitional epithelium" on the picture is the lining layer where most bladder cancers start. Over time they can spread deeper into the other layers.
Bladder cancer can often be found early because it causes blood in the urine or other urinary symptoms that cause a person to see a health care provider. Blood in the urine. In most cases, blood in the urine (called hematuria) is the first sign of bladder cancer. There may be enough blood to change the color of the urine to orange, pink, or ...