The bladder is a hollow muscular elastic organ that stores urine excreted by the kidneys, before it is emptied from the body by means of urination. Cancer that starts in the urinary bladder is known as bladder cancer.
Although the exact cause of bladder cancer is unknown, certain factors can make you more prone such as smoking, exposure to harmful chemicals, chemo and radiation therapy, and chronic bladder infections.
Symptoms include blood in the urine, painful and frequent urination, urinary incontinence, weight loss, fatigue and abdominal pain.
When you visit the clinic with these complaints, your doctor may perform a thorough physical examination including a rectal examination, and pelvic exam in women and a prostate exam in men. Your doctor may order other tests such as abdominal CT and MRI scan, bladder biopsy, urinalysis, urine cytology (study of urine cells) and cystoscopy (bladder is examined for abnormalities using a camera) to confirm the diagnosis. If cancer is discovered, other tests are conducted to determine how far the tumour has invaded the surrounding tissues or whether it has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body. This is known as staging.
Treatment depends on the severity of symptoms, stage of cancer and your overall health. Treatment options for bladder cancer include surgery to remove the cancer, which can be performed alone or in combinations with other treatments. Chemotherapy (using cancer- killing drugs) and radiation therapy (using high-dose radiation) may be performed before or after surgery to destroy cancer cells. Your doctor may also perform immunotherapy (using immune system) to attack and kill cancer cells.