Bladder cancer begins when cells in the bladder begin to divide and grow uncontrollably. As more of these cancerous cells develop, they form a mass (tumor). In most cases, bladder cancer begins its development within the innermost lining of the bladder. Though cases are very rare, it is possible for advanced-stage bladder cancer to grow into and through the organ lining and spread to other parts of the body.
At 5% of all new cancer diagnoses each year, bladder cancer mostly affects men over the age of 55. Men are 3 to 4 times more likely than women to develop this particular cancer during their lifetimes. If you have concerns, continue reading and be sure to give us a call with your questions.
Causes of Bladder Cancer
Researchers have yet to pinpoint the exact causes of bladder cancers but they have found links between certain risk factors and the disease. As time progresses, more and more is being discovered about what causes cells in the bladder to turn cancerous.
Changes in the DNA inside normal bladder cells can make them grow abnormally and form cancers. Some genes, called “oncogenes,” control when cells grow, divide, become new cells, and die. Genes that aid in properly timed cell division and death are deemed “tumor suppressor genes.” Cancer can be caused by gene mutations that stops the tumor suppressor genes within the body. However, keep in mind that several simultaneous and varied gene mutations are needed for a cell to become cancer.
While gene mutation plays a large part in bladder cancer, several other risk factors should be taken into account:
● History of smoking
● Advanced age
● Bladder defects
● Family history
Just remember that risk factors are predictors, not guarantees, of cancer. If you are a smoker, have a family history or simply have concerns, there are tests to screen for bladder cancer.
What are the Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer can present in the body through an array sometimes. Common ones include:
● Needing to urinate more frequently than usual
● Pain or burning during urination
● Feeling of urgency, even when the bladder is not full
● Having trouble starting or maintaining urination
● Weak urine stream
● Blood in urine
Symptoms of more advanced stage bladder cancer may include:
● Being completely unable to urinate
● Lower back pain on one side
● Loss of appetite and weight loss
● Feeling tired or weak
● Swelling in the feet
● Bone pain
How is Bladder Cancer Treated
The course of treatment decided upon by your doctor will depend on the progression of the cancer. Treatments will typically include one or a combination of the following:
● Radiation therapy
The course of treatment will vary from patient to patient depending on the stage of the disease, the overall health of the patient and if the cancerous cells have spread to other parts of the body.
Though bladder cancer can affect anyone, men over 55 are at particular risk. If you have a family history of the disease or wish to be proactive, get screened. Early detection is key!