Diagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer
Among all types of cancer, bladder cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, affecting close to 60,000 adults every year. It is more common in men than in women. In men, bladder cancer usually develops after the age of 50. However, it can affect people at any age.
The bladder is a muscular organ that is hollow and stores the urine before it passes from the body. The cells in the bladder are called Urothelial cells. These cells line the inside walls of the bladder. Most bladder cancer begins in these cells.
Although bladder cancer most often gets detected and treated at an early stage, it does have the tendency to recur. Therefore, people who have been detected of bladder cancer and treated in the past are often asked to keep following up with their tests for many years post their diagnosis and treatment.
Diagnosis becomes an important part of treatment of bladder cancer. There are no treatments that can happen unless the cancer has been diagnosed. There are several tests and procedure that are a part of bladder cancer diagnosis. Here are some of those diagnosis and their procedures mentioned.
This procedure involves the doctor inserting a small and narrow tube through the urethra. This tube is called the cystoscope. There is a lens in the cystoscope that lets the doctor view the inside of the urethra and bladder to examine any pattern that symbolizes the signs and symptoms of bladder cancer.
While the cystoscopy is in progress, the doctor may use a special tool through the cystoscope into the bladder to get a sample of a cell for testing. This procedure is called biopsy, and transurethral resection of bladder tumor. This procedure of diagnosis can also be used to cure or treat cancer.
- Urine cytology
In this diagnostic process, a sample of urine is taken and tested under a microscope and checked for cancer cells using cytology.
- Imaging tests
This diagnosis uses computerized tomography or retrograde pyelogram to let the doctor examine the urinary tract that helps to detect bladder cancer.
Bladder cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy for the whole body, reconstruction, chemotherapy in the bladder, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy. In some cases, a combination of different treatments can be applied.
- In surgery, a cancerous tissue is removed.
- Chemotherapy in the bladder includes treating tumors that are that are limited to the lining of the bladder but have the tendency of recurrence and take the cancer to a higher stage. It is also called intravesical chemotherapy.
- In reconstruction, a new way for the urine to exit the body is created, after the bladder is removed.
- Chemotherapy for the whole body, also called systemic chemotherapy, is done to ensure or increase the chances of cure when the surgery to remove bladder is going to take place. Chemotherapy for the whole body is also a primary treatment where surgery is not an option.
- Radiation therapy includes destroying the cancer cells as a primary treatment when surgery is not possible or chosen by the patient.
- Immunotherapy is done to trigger the immune system of the body to fight cancer cells in the whole body or in the bladder.
The doctor chooses the combination of treatments depending on the need based on the factors discussed above. Whether there is a need of a combination of surgery or not is an important decision the doctor must make.
Doctors that treat bladder cancer come under three categories.
They are surgeons who specialize in treating urinary system diseases and the male reproductive system.
- Medical oncologists
These doctors use chemotherapy and immunotherapy to treat cancer.
- Radiation oncologists
These doctors treat cancer using the radiation therapy.
There are other doctors and physicians when bladder cancer treatments are running. Once the treatment is completed, the cancer care team of the patient will provide all necessary information and support to coming out of cancer. The medical support post bladder cancer treatment is an important part, and any treatment is not complete without the post-treatment cancer support.
If you or someone you know has bladder cancer, there are plenty of bladder cancer survivor stories people have shared from across the globe to help others who are going through the experience. Reading those stories and talking to people who have shared the same experience will help you get through the entire cancer treatment and recovery process with much ease and mental support.