Bladder Carcinoma (Cancer)

What is Bladder Carcinoma?

The bladder is an organ found in the abdominal cavity. It is hollow, expandable, and is used by the body to store urine. Because of this, the bladder is an extremely important part of the human body and an essential part of the urinary tract. It works with the kidneys, ureters, and urethra to create a functioning urinary system and helps eliminate waste from the body.

The various organs in the urinary system are lined with a layer of cells called the urothelium. It is believed that bladder carcinoma (cancer) develops when the cells in the bladder lining alter themselves and grow abnormally. Usually, these form a mass or a tumor, which can be benign or malignant.  If it is malignant, it is possible for the tumor to spread to other parts of the body.

Types

  • Urothelial carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma

Each of these cancers can be described as noninvasive, non-muscle-invasive, muscle-invasive. All of these cancers can spread into other areas of the body.

What are the Symptoms of Bladder Carcinoma?

People with bladder carcinoma may involve symptoms. However, not all patients show any symptoms at all.

Symptoms include

  • Blood in the urine
  • Blood clots in the urine
  • Pain during urination
  • Burning during urination
  • Urinating more frequently
  • More frequent night time urination
  • Feeling the need to urinate but being unable to urinate
  • Pain in the lower back on the affected side of the body

The most common reason that bladder cancer is diagnosed is because a patient reports visible blood in their urine. However, it is not uncommon for bladder cancer to be caught during regular blood tests. This is because the blood in the urine is to minute to be noticed, even by the patient.

Bladder Carcinoma Causes

The exact causes of bladder carcinoma, otherwise known as bladder cancer, remain unknown to scientists. The disease occurs when cells in the bladder begin to develop in an atypical way. These abnormal cells will mutate and, instead of dying off, they will survive.

Various connections – risk factors which render an individual much more vulnerable to developing the disease – have been determined. By and large, the leading risk factor of bladder cancer is cigarette smoking. Smokers are several times more likely than nonsmokers to develop bladder carcinoma. Additional risk factors include: chemotherapy, exposure to arsenic in potable (drinking water), certain dietary supplements and medications, chronic bladder infections throughout one’s life, a consistent lack of sufficient water intake (chronic dehydration), parasitic infections, and a family history of bladder cancer. Furthermore, certain occupations which involve heavy exposure to various chemicals – such as painters or hairdressers – have been shown to increase one’s vulnerability to developing bladder cancer.

Additionally, white men over the age of forty are more likely than any other group to develop bladder cancer.

How is Bladder Carcinoma Treated?

Treatment of bladder carcinoma depends greatly on the type of cancer it is and the grade of cancer that is being treated. Treatment is usually handled by a multidisciplinary team.

Treatment includes

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Vitamins
  • Dietary changes
  • Immunotherapy
  • Treatment of individual symptoms

Specialists

  • Urologist
  • Oncologist
  • Physician assistants
  • Oncology nurses
  • Social workers
  • Pharmacists
  • Counselors
  • Dieticians
  • Alternative therapists

Bladder Carcinoma Prevention

Because the precise cause of bladder cancer remains unknown, confident prevention methods against the disease are not entirely possible. However, avoiding cigarettes and cigarette smoke can greatly decrease one’s susceptibility to developing bladder carcinoma. Additionally, maintaining proper hydration levels throughout one’s life and addressing bladder infections with promptness can help reduce the likelihood of an individual developing the disease. However, one may have none of the risk factors for developing the disease and may still develop the disease.

Bladder carcinoma also has a high rate of recurrence. Many people who experience bladder cancer once will struggle with a second episode of the cancer. A particular test called the DNA methylation marker test is capable of predicting tumor recurrence by testing an individual’s urine. Taking this test regularly is a good idea for someone who has already experienced the disease.

Resources
Last Reviewed:
September 13, 2016
Last Updated:
November 17, 2017