Cancer is a life-threatening disease that affects organ systems in the body, and once it metastasizes, the cancerous cells and tumors spread quickly. Proper treatment addresses the point of origin, and patients undergo tumor removal surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. Learning about urological cancers helps patients determine if their symptoms indicate cancer and how doctors diagnose and treat the disease.
Understanding the Disease
A diagnosis of bladder cancer starts when cancerous cells appear in the bladder. The urothelial cells are within the lining of the bladder, the kidneys, and the ureters. Urothelial cancer might occur in the ureters and kidneys first and later spread to the bladder.
Doctors are often able to diagnose the disease in the early stages. Earlier detection saves more lives, and the disease is at a treatable stage. Unfortunately, some patients must return for additional treatments if the cancer reappears.
What Are the Symptoms?
Hematuria, or blood in the urine, is the most common symptom. The patient experiences urgency, frequent urination, pain when urinating, and lower back pain. At the onset of these symptoms, the person needs to schedule an appointment with Urologists in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Are There Known Causes and Risk Factors?
Medical studies show that cancer begins with a mutation in the cells that causes the cancerous cells to replicate rapidly. The cancerous cells spread to healthy tissue in the bladder, and the abnormalities create a tumor inside the bladder. The tumors and cells spread or metastasize to other organ systems in the body if left untreated.
Common risk factors for bladder cancer are smoking, exposure to chemicals, chronic bladder inflammation, and previous treatment for the disease. Men are more likely to develop cancer, and individuals over the age of 55 are at the greatest risk. Any patient with a family medical history, including bladder cancer, is also at risk.
Are There Different Types?
The point of origin for cancer determines its type and what treatments are most effective for eliminating tumors and cancerous cells in the body. Three types of cancer affect the bladder. Urothelial carcinoma or transitional cell carcinoma starts with cells inside the bladder, and the cells expand as the bladder fills and contracts to eliminate waste from the body. The cancerous cells also begin in the ureters or urethra.
Squamous cell carcinoma happens due to chronic or persistent bladder inflammation. Infections form when using urinary catheters and spread through the bladder, and the cells occur if the person had schistosomiasis or a parasitic bladder infection previously.
Adenocarcinoma is another form of bladder-related cancer that starts in the bladder’s mucus-secreting glands. Fewer cases of adenocarcinoma emerge each year as compared to urothelial carcinoma.
How Is It Diagnosed?
Urologists perform tests to diagnose bladder cancer. A cystoscopy involves the insertion of a narrow tube in the urethra. The doctors view the inside of the bladder and examine the organ’s structure for signs of cancer.
A biopsy involves the removal of tissue from the bladder to test for cancerous cells. Doctors perform biopsies as a way to treat tumors and visible cells.
Urine testing shows if there are any cancerous cells in the urine. The test takes a few minutes to perform.
CT or computerized tomography scans show the structure of the bladder and reveal if there are tumors or abnormal growths inside the bladder. The doctors see if cancer has metastasized based on the results of the scans. Doctors perform CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, bone scans, and chest X-rays to see how far cancerous cells have spread in the body.
How Is It Treated?
Doctors determine bladder cancer treatment according to each case and the cancer type. Surgeons perform surgical removal of the tumors and cells if the patient has existing tumors in the bladder, ureters, or kidneys. Additional surgeries remove any new tumors if other treatments aren’t successful.
Intravesical chemotherapy eliminates cancerous cells and prevents cancer from metastasizing. The treatment confines the cells to the bladder, but there is a risk that the cells could come back, and the disease might progress to a higher stage. Chemotherapy for the entire body involves intravenous delivery through the bloodstream. Doctors use this treatment after cancer metastasizes.
Radiation therapy kills cancer cells, and physicians recommend the treatment if surgical removal of the tumors isn’t possible. The doctor recommends immunotherapy for all patients who receive radiation or chemotherapy to improve the immune system.
Targeted therapy is a combination of different treatments. The doctor recommends targeted medication treatments to prevent new cancer cells from forming, and the advanced treatments eradicate existing cancer cells. Doctors combine TURBT or transurethral resection of bladder tumors, chemotherapy, and radiation if the patient is at a greater stage of the disease. All patients need follow-up appointments to see if cancer has come back, and further testing shows if there are any new cancerous cells in the bladder or surrounding organ systems.
How to Lower Your Risks
Patients with a family medical history of bladder cancer reduce their risks by following strict precautions. They should never smoke or use tobacco products, and if they do smoke, they need to find an effective way to quit. Medications and OTC products offer support for those trying to quit smoking, and there are support groups to keep them motivated.
Chemical exposure is a cause of bladder cancer, and workers follow strict safety protocols to lower the risk of exposure. By wearing personal protection equipment, the worker protects their body against chemicals and prevents harmful substances from reaching their bloodstream.
Dietary changes promote a healthier body, and a diet high in fruits and vegetables increases antioxidant intake. Antioxidants are known to fight cancer cells in the body, and they lower the risk of new cancer cells forming in the organs.
Where to Get Cancer Treatment
At Atlantic Urology Clinics, we provide comprehensive healthcare services for all patients with urological disorders and cancers. Our practice offers kind and friendly medical services for everyone, and we provide the most effective treatments possible. Are you struggling with a urological condition? Set up an appointment with us right now.