Your guide to bladder cancer

Cancer occurs when cells divide uncontrollably, leading to the formation of the tumor then. These cancerous cells take up the bulk of the resources, depriving the normal cells of nutrition. When this occurs in the bladder, it is then referred to as bladder cancer. Located in the pelvic region, the bladder is a hollow muscular bag that houses urine.

Symptoms of bladder cancer 

The symptoms of bladder cancer include the presence of blood in the urine. There is also pain accompanying urine. Loss of bladder control, frequent urination, the urgency with urination are also signs of bladder cancer. Alongside pain in the abdominal region, bladder cancer also leads to weight loss and fatigue. If you observe these signs, you should seek the help of a urologist in Karachi

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Types of bladder cancer 

There are 2 categories of Bladder cancer

Adenocarcinoma: Although rare, this type of bladder cancer occurs when glandular cells form in the bladder. This formation is a result of the bladder irritation that has been spanning a long while, alongside inflammation. 

Squamous cell carcinoma: As the name suggests, this cancer occurs when the squamous cells form in the bladder. This rare type of cancer is a result of infection or irritation of the bladder that has been chronic. 

Transitional cell carcinoma: Beginning at the transition cells present at the inner layer of the bladder, this type of bladder cancer is most common. 

Stages of bladder cancer

Determining the stages of the cancer is the most important part of the treatment. Progressively, the treatment also becomes more complicated. Different tests like a biopsy, CT scan, X-ray, MRI are done in this regard. 

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Stage 0: At this initial stage of cancer, there is no cancer present per se, however, the cells that lead to cancer are present at the lining of the bladder cells. Naturally, there are no symptoms present at this stage. 

Stage 1: At this stage, the cancer cells occupy the connective tissue layers of the bladder lining. An important sign of stage 1 is the presence of blood in the urine. Due to this salient marker, usually, bladder cancer catch in stage 1 or thereabouts. 

Stage 2: By this stage, the cancer cells proliferate to the point that they move beyond the connective tissue, into the muscles. It is also accompanied by other symptoms like increased urgency to urinate, and the inability to completely empty the urine. Moreover, in stage 2, there is also often pain with urination as well. 

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Stage 3: By the third stage, cancer spreads to the areas surrounding the bladder. When the cancerous cells have made it to the nearby reproductive organs like the uterus, prostate, and have to affect one lymph node in the region.

However, if the spread is through the iliac artery that supplies blood to the organs in the pelvic region or has occupied two lymph nodes, this is known as stage 3b. 

With the progression of the disease, the symptoms also start to increase in severity. There is also pain in the lower back as well. 

Stage 4:  The final stage is marked by cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body. If the spread is to the wall of the abdominal region or thereabouts, it is referred to as stage 4A. 

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In stage 4B, the spread is to the rest of the areas of the body including lungs, bones, etc. 

Treatment of bladder cancer

The treatment is contingent on the stage of the cancer. For stages 0 and 1, possible treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. In stages 2 and 3, treatment options include chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, removing part of the bladder, and immunotherapy. 

For stage 4, the treatment may be focused on either extending life or palliative care. Hence, visiting a urologist in Lahore timely can help save your life.  

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