Finding Out You Have Bladder Cancer
is the fourth most common cancer in men and the eighth most common in women.
Risk factors for bladder cancer include:
Bladder cancer occurs more frequently in people older than 40 and rarely in
those under 40.
use: Smoking cigarettes, pipes or cigars increases the risk two to three
occupations: The following people are at higher risk: rubber, chemical
and leather industry workers; hair dressers; machinists; metal workers; printers;
painters; textile workers; truck drivers.
Caucasian people are twice as likely to get bladder cancer as African Americans
and Hispanics. Asians have the lowest rate.
Men have a bladder cancer rate that’s twice as high as women.
of bladder cancer: If you’ve had bladder cancer, you’re at increased risk
of getting it again.
does treatment usually involve?
Treatment for bladder
cancer is based on the stage of the disease. In the earliest stage, cancer
cells are found only on the surface of the inner lining of the bladder. This
is called Stage 0. At Stage I, cancer cells are deep in the inner lining of
the bladder, but they haven’t spread to the muscle of the bladder. In Stage
II, the cancer cells have reached the muscle. By Stage III, the cells have
spread from the muscle wall to tissue surrounding the bladder. They may have
spread to the prostate in men or to the uterus and vagina in women. In Stage
IV, the cancer may have spread to the abdomen, the pelvic wall, to lymph nodes
or to locations much farther away in the body.
When you sit down
to talk with your doctor about your treatment, it can be hard sometimes to
concentrate and remember everything that you discuss. That’s why it’s a good
idea to take notes during the appointment. Or you may want to take a friend
or family member with you, because it never hurts to have “another set of
ears” listening to what your doctor says. Another option is to take a tape
recorder to your appointment.
bladder cancer generally include surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation.
There are three main types of surgery for bladder cancer.
earlier cancers, the surgeon inserts a tool into the bladder through the
urethra (the tube from which urine leaves the body) and removes cancer cells.
This is called transurethral resection. It is typically done in a hospital,
under anesthesia. Chemotherapy may be necessary afterwards.
most common type of surgery for cancer that has spread beyond the bladder
lining is called radical cystectomy. It involves removing the bladder, lymph
nodes nearby, a portion of the urethra and any close organs where the cancer
may have spread. For men, this can include removal of the prostate, seminal
vesicles and part of the vas deferens. For women it can include removal of the
uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and part of the vagina.
low-grade cancers that have invaded the wall of the bladder in just one
area, surgeons may perform what’s called a “segmental cystectomy.” This
surgery removes the cancer cells and some of the bladder tissue that surrounds
If your bladder
needs to be removed, the surgeon will create another way for your urine to
be collected. Sometimes, this entails wearing a bag outside your body. Other
times, your surgeon may be able to create a pouch inside your body by using
part of your intestine.
Be sure to ask
your doctor the following questions if you need surgery for your bladder cancer:
type of operation am I going to have?
will I feel afterwards?
I have a lot of pain, how will you be able to help me?
will I urinate after the surgery?
long will it take me to get back to my normal routine?
will the surgery affect my sex life?
frequently will I need to have checkups?
uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. For bladder cancer, there are
two types of radiation: internal and external. During external radiation,
a large machine outside your body aims radiation at the site of the tumor.
For internal radiation, the doctor places a small container of a radioactive
substance inside the bladder, either by going through the urethra or through
an incision in the abdomen. This usually requires a hospital stay of several
days. The container is removed before you leave the hospital.
If your cancer
was not very invasive, you may receive chemotherapy directly into your bladder
through the urethra. The schedule for this type of chemotherapy varies, but
often happens once a week for a varied period of time.
For more invasive
cancer, patients typically receive chemotherapy through a vein so that the
medication can reach nearly every part of your body. Common side effects of
Be sure to tell
your doctor about any side effects you experience, because there may be medications
that can help control them.
after treatment is crucial
Since it’s fairly
common for bladder cancer to return, it’s extremely important to stick to
your follow-up appointment schedule. That way, if the cancer does come back,
you’ll be aware of it as soon as possible.
The American Cancer Society; The National Cancer Institute