Urinary Bladder Cancer : Symptoms and Causes – Institute of Urology, Jaipur: Generally speaking, 1 in 28 men and 1 in 91 women have the risk of developing Urinary bladder cancer in their life. There are many factors which alter the risk of developing the cancer. Today, through this article, we will try to answer all your questions regarding Urinary Bladder Cancer and help you understand the disease. We hope after after reading this article, you will get an idea about what to do when you have a doubt of urinary bladder cancer. We will try to write this article in very simple language so that our purpose of making your understand is met.
Urinary bladder is a hollow inverted balloon like organ which is placed in the pelvis. It has a very simple job, collect urine that is coming from the kidney and hold it. When sufficient amount of urine is collected in the bladder, the bladder muscles develop a pressure within itself which sends a signal to the brain. This is when you get the urge to urinate. Now when you are ready to pass urine, the bladder muscles contract, and the urine is released outside through the urine pipe called as urethra.
The inner lining of the urinary bladder is made of special types of cells, these cells called as “Transitional epithelium cells” or “Urothelial cells” have a property of being able to stretch just like a balloon. So when urine is getting collected in the bladder, they can stretch and hold more and more urine. And when the urine is passed they can shrink back to their original small size. It is interesting to note that in most of the cases of bladder cancer, cancer begins in these transitional cells.
What is Urinary Bladder Cancer or Tumour
Cancer means uncontrollable division of cells in any part of the body. When the cells of inner lining of urinary bladder (transitional epithelium cells) start dividing out of proportion, the disease is known as urinary bladder cancer. These cells which divide uncontrollably, are called as malignant cells. Once the cells start dividing, they can grow within the urinary bladder lumen or they can invade the urinary bladder muscles and start reaching the organs that are nearby the urinary bladder. These cancer cells filter with the lymph easily and reach the lymph nodes near the bladder.
What are the types of Urinary Bladder Cancer?
Mainly, urinary bladder cancer can be of 5 types.
- Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC) or Urothelial Cancer – As aforementioned, this is the most common type. More than 95% cases belong to this category. Smoking is the main culprit for TCC in most cases. If someone gets diagnosed with TCC, we do a checkup of the entire urinary tract in order to rule out any spread or new growth.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma – This is the second most common type. This type of bladder cancer is problematic as it commonly invades and reaches other pelvic organs.
- Adenocarcinoma – Less than 1% cases belong to this category. This too is invasive.
- Small Cell Carcinoma – This starts in neuroendocrine cells. Small cell carcinoma grows very quickly and for treating this, chemotherapy is required.
- Sarcoma – This is rare form of bladder cancer. Here the cancer starts in the muscles of urinary bladder wall.
What are the Risk Factors of Urinary Bladder Cancer?
- Smoking – Smoking in any form be it Cigar, Cigarette, Bidi, Pipe etc. Any form of smoking where smoke is entering the lungs, highly increases the chances of developing bladder cancer. When a person smokes, the smoke from the lungs gets absorbed in the blood stream. This blood now contains chemicals present in the smoke. When the blood reaches the kidney, it absorbs the chemicals and excretes them with the urine. The urine now has those chemicals. As the urine gets collected in the urinary bladder, the smoke chemicals in the urine irritate the urinary bladder cells, and ultimately the cells get damaged by repeated exposure to chemicals. Here, the chances of developing bladder cancer are very high.
- Family History of Cancer – Mutations in some familial genes (FGFR3, PIK3CA, KDM6A, and TP53) may increase the risk of developing cancer. This means, if some one in your family (blood relative), has had urinary bladder cancer, then you may be more likely to get it too. Although genetic cause for urinary bladder cancer is not very common like smoking, it is still important to be aware of the possibility.
- Gender – Urinary bladder cancer is more common in males as compared to females.
- Age – Urinary bladder cancer risk increases with age. It is less common in young people. Most of the urinary bladder cancer patients are above the age of 55 at the time of diagnosis.
- Cancer Treatment History -There are certain cancer medicines like Cyclophosphamide which are commonly used for cancers in other areas of body. These increase the risk of getting bladder cancer. Apart from drugs, even radiation therapy received for cancers of other pelvic organs increase the risk of developing bladder cancer.
- Chronic Inflammation of Bladder – In some patients it is seen that getting repeated episodes of urinary tract infection increases the chance of cancer. Specially in patients who remain catheterised for a very long time, tend to develop repeated infections. So these patients are more likely to get bladder tumour.
- Parasitic Infection – Schistosomiasis is a chronic parasitic infection of the bladder which increases the risk of squamous cell cancer of the bladder.
What are the Symptoms of Urinary Bladder Cancer?
How do you know if you have Bladder Cancer? Remember, most of the symptoms are overlapping. Means, some symptoms can exist in other conditions as well. So you should be cautious but do not panic. If you have any of the following symptoms, please see a good urologist as soon as possible.
- Blood in Urine – This is the most common symptom of bladder cancer. Remember, everyone who has blood in urine does not have bladder cancer, but if some one has bladder cancer, it is highly likely they will have blood in urine. You can read about other reasons of Blood in Urine “Here”.
- Problem while Passing Urine – The common problems may be : Passing urine very often- Frequency, Passing urine very suddenly- Urgency, Pain while passing urine- Dysuria, Burning sensation while passing urine, problems with the urine flow etc. Many symptoms of urinary infection coincide with cancer, so it is very important to see a urologist and do not self medicate.
- Pain in Lower back or Pelvic pain.
- Unintentional loss of weight.
- Swelling in the legs.
I repeat, if you have any of the above symptoms, please see a urologist as soon as possible. Take your previous medical records related to any bladder problems along with you.
We hope this article was helpful in clearing your doubts about urinary bladder cancer. We can be reached at 9829013468 for any queries. For direct consultation, please take an appointment at Institute of Urology, Jaipur by calling 9829013468 or you can directly talk to Dr. Rajan Bansal at 8601539297.