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Mercy Health - St. Vincent Medical Center
For Payments:
P.O Box 636447
Cincinnati, Ohio 45263-6447
For Assistance: (855) 847-6049

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Bladder Cancer

Urine is stored in the bladder - an elastic, small organ in the lower abdomen. Bladder cancer develops when cancerous cells form in the organ’s tissues. Bladder cancer is the ninth most common cancer.

Risk Factors and Symptoms

In addition to family history of bladder cancer, risk factors for developing the condition include:
  • age – people age 55 and older are more prone to bladder cancer
  • gender - men are more prone to developing bladder cancer than women
  • race – whites have a higher rate of developing bladder cancer than other ethnicities
  • smoking
  • long-term use of chemotherapy
  • increased exposure to pelvic radiation
  • exposure to certain chemicals including diesel fumes, hair dyes, rubber, paint products
Symptoms of bladder cancer can include:
  • blood in the urine
  • urgent need to empty your bladder
  • frequent urination
  • sensation of needing to urinate without any urine production
  • painful urination
  • needing to bear down to empty the bladder

Diagnostic Tests

To diagnose bladder cancer your primary care doctor or urologist will review your personal and family medical history, discuss your symptoms, perform a physical exam and then possibly order one or more of the following tests:
  • urine test - to check for blood, cancer cells and presence for other abnormalities
  • cystoscopic exam - this exam can be done in your doctor's office. You will change into a hospital gown and your doctor may use a local anesthesia before inserting a cystoscope – a small lighted tube – to look directly into your bladder. Your doctor may remove a small tissue sample during the exam and send the sample to a lab where a pathologist will examine the tissue for cancer cells. You will be able to resume normal daily activities following the exam.


Treatment Options

If you have been diagnosed with bladder cancer your prescribed treatment will depend on the stage of the cancer (Stage O to Stage 4) and other personal medical factors. Standard treatment options for bladder cancer include:
  • surgery – depending on the extent of your bladder cancer your oncologist may recommend bladder surgery.
  • radiation – during radiation therapy you will either have a sealed, radioactive substance inserted into or near your cancerous tumor or your cancerous organ area will be subjected to regular doses of high-energy x-rays.
  • chemotherapy – intravenously or orally delivered chemical to destroy the cancer cells
  • biologic therapy – a liquid solution containing weakened bacteria is intravenously delivered to your urethra to help your body’s immune system fight the cancerous cells in your bladder.

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