Bladder Cancer Symptoms and Treatment

Bladder Cancer Symptoms

Bladder cancer is quite common and like any cancer, occurs when normal cells in the body change and begin to affect surrounding healthy cells; this can cause disruptive symptoms such as uncomfortable urination and an increased regularity and urgency in the need to urinate, as well as blood to be intermittently, yet painlessly present in the urine.

Bladder Cancer risk

Those concerned about any such disruptive bladder issue should primarily consult their doctor for possible referral to a bladder specialist. In general, those most at risk of bladder cancer are older people, smokers, long-term (indwelling) catheter users and anyone who has regularly handled carcinogens such as aromatic amines that are known to increase the risk of bladder cancer.

Bladder cancer symptoms and treatment
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Bladder Cancer Treatment

Bladder Cancer Treatment involves a cystoscope entering the bladder (via the urethra) to identify bladder tumours and, where ‘superficial’ cancer only exists in the bladder lining, to remove them using a probe. When cancer is identified within the bladder wall muscle, tumours are deemed ‘invasive’ and must be treated using chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

Surgical Options

Where ‘invasive’ tumours are found, patients will typically receive one of two types of cystectomy, which either involves the surgical removal of some bladder tissues (partial cystectomy) or all of the bladder (radical cystectomy); the latter also involves removal of local lymph nodes and part of the urethra, as well as a man’s prostate or both a woman’s cervix and womb.

Surgery impact

Usual bladder function is lost following a radical cystectomy, so a secondary surgical procedure called a urinary diversion could be required. Varying types of urinary diversions can be performed to help urine exit the body successfully, often via the kidneys; these procedures are known as Urostomies, continent urinary diversions or entire bladder reconstructions.

Urostomy Urinary Diversions

The most common urinary diversion procedure is the urostomy, where a small hole (known as a stoma) is made in the abdominal wall, before a short section of the patient’s small bowel is used to link the stoma to the two tubes (ureters) that typically transport urine out from the kidneys. The stoma is also fitted with a waterproof sac, which is used to contain the extracted urine.

Continent Urinary Diversion

Similar to a urostomy, the continent urinary diversion is an operation that doesn’t require a waterproof sac to be fitted; extracted urine is contained within an inner pouch that’s made using a section of the bowel instead. Connected to both the stoma and ureters (as with urostomies), the pouch is then emptied of urine, by using a catheter around five times per day.

Bladder reconstruction

By removing and reconstructing a part of the bowel, a new artificial bladder (akin to a water-balloon) can sometimes be formed and fitted (to both the urethra and ureters). Due to the impact on nerve functionality, around a third of patients will experience incontinence and the new ‘neobladder’ should be emptied regularly, especially before bed (when incontinence typically occur).

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