If You Spot This, You May Have Bladder Cancer
Every year an estimated 80,000 are diagnosed with bladder cancer and over 16,000 people die. It's the fourth most common cancer in men and the eight most common in women, according to Yale Medicine, but "Bladder cancer in the early stages can often be cured," the National Cancer Institute states. Like with all other cancers, early detection is key and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Ahmed Eldefrawy, urologic oncologist at Miami Cancer Institute, part of Baptist Health South Florida who shares who is at risk for bladder cancer and symptoms to watch out for. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
The Three Types of Bladder Cancer
The National Cancer Institute explains, "There are three types of bladder cancer that begin in cells in the lining of the bladder. These cancers are named for the type of cells that become malignant (cancerous):
- –Transitional cell carcinoma: Cancer that begins in cells in the innermost tissue layer of the bladder. These cells are able to stretch when the bladder is full and shrink when it is emptied. Most bladder cancers begin in the transitional cells. Transitional cell carcinoma can be low-grade or high-grade:
- –Squamous cell carcinoma: Cancer that begins in squamous cells (thin, flat cells lining the inside of the bladder). Cancer may form after long-term infection or irritation.
- –Adenocarcinoma: Cancer that begins in glandular cells that are found in the lining of the bladder. Glandular cells in the bladder make substances such as mucus. This is a very rare type of bladder cancer.
Cancer that is in the lining of the bladder is called superficial bladder cancer. Cancer that has spread through the lining of the bladder and invades the muscle wall of the bladder or has spread to nearby organs and lymph nodes is called invasive bladder cancer."
Who is at Risk for Bladder Cancer?
Dr. Eldefrawy says the following factors increase the risk of bladder cancer.
–"Smoking is the number one risk factor and cause of bladder cancer. Some studies found smoking is more linked to bladder cancer than lung cancer. Men are at a much higher risk of developing bladder cancer compared to women. In fact, the risk is 4 to 5 times higher.
–Age is another risk factor – the older we get, the higher the risk of developing bladder cancer.
–Exposure to certain chemicals like paint.
–Chronic inflammation and irritation of the bladder, like in a patient who requires a long-term Foley catheter to drain the bladder, create risk of a certain type of bladder cancer years after exposure."
Bladder Cancer is Treatable
Dr. Eldefrawy tells us, "Bladder cancer is treatable and curable if found early, before spreading. The initial treatment is to remove the tumor completely by using a scope transurethral and resect the tumor in pieces. That initial step needed for treatment is determining the stage of cancer – if it is superficial bladder cancer or invading the muscle. Superficial cancer is then treated by surveillance cystoscopy where we inspect the bladder regularly and install an immunotherapy agent or treat with chemotherapy locally in the bladder to reduce the risk of cancer coming back. If bladder cancer is invading the muscle layer of the bladder, then removing the bladder is the gold standard and offers the best chance for cure. Occasionally, chemotherapy is given before surgery. If cancer has spread beyond the bladder, then chemotherapy and immunotherapy are the best options. Surgery would be only indicated to relieve symptoms, if any, like bleeding."
Warning Signs of Bladder Cancer
Dr. Eldefrawy says the following are signs of bladder cancer to watch out for.
– "Seeing blood in the urine, even if it happened once and resolved completely.
– If yearly urine analysis by your PCP showed microscopic red blood cells in urine if you do not see blood in urine.
– Sudden change in urination symptoms or pattern that persists, like increasing frequency or flow of urine."
Don't Ignore the Signs
According to Dr. Eldefrawy, "Bladder cancer has the highest cost of cancer treatment per patient as it requires lifelong surveillance and has the tendency of coming back. Never ignore blood in urine – even if it only happened once and resolved the same day and even if there was no pain. If you are diagnosed with bladder cancer, do not stop following up as it can come back and progress to aggressive lethal cancer.