Bladder cancer involves an abnormal tissue growth, known as a tumour in the bladder lining. In certain cases, the tumour spreads into the bladder muscle.
The most basic symptom of bladder cancer is blood in your urine, which is normally painless.
If you notice blood in your urine, even if it comes and goes, you should see your doctor, so the cause can be investigated.
Types of Bladder Cancer
Once diagnosed, bladder cancer can be categorized by how far it has spread.
If the cancerous cells are controlled inside the lining of the bladder, doctors refer to it as non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer. This is the main common type of bladder cancer. Most people don't die from of this type of bladder cancer.
When the cancerous cells spread outside the lining, into the surrounding bladder muscle, it's described as muscle-invasive bladder cancer. This is rare, but has a higher chance of spreading to other parts of the body.
If bladder cancer has spread to other parts of the body, it's called advanced or metastatic bladder cancer.
Why does Bladder Cancer happen?
Most cases of bladder cancer are mostly caused by exposure to harmful substances, which thereby lead to abnormal changes in the bladder's cells over several years.
Smoking of tobacco is a regular cause and it's estimated that over 1 in 3 cases of bladder cancer are caused by smoking.
Contact with certain chemicals which formerly used in manufacturing is also believed to cause bladder cancer. However, these materials have since been banned.
Treating Bladder Cancer
In cases of non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer, it's generally feasible to remove the cancerous cells without touching the rest of the bladder.
This is done using a surgical procedure called transurethral resection of a bladder tumour (TURBT). This is followed by a dose of chemotherapy medicines directly into the bladder, to reduce the risk of the cancer returning.
In some cases with a greater risk of recurrence, medicine known as Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) may be injected into the bladder to lower the risk of the cancer returning.
Treatment for high-risk non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer or muscle-invasive bladder cancer may call for surgically removing the bladder in a procedure known as a cystectomy.
Many patients will have to choose between surgery and a course of radiotherapy.
When the bladder is removed, you'll need another means of collecting your urine. feasible options include making an opening in the abdomen so urine can be released into an external bag or constructing a new bladder out of a part of bowel. This will be carried out at the same time as a cystectomy.
After treatment for various types of bladder cancer, you'll have frequent follow-up tests to check for signs of recurrence.
Who is affected?
About 10,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer every year and it's the 10th most common cancer in the Nigeria.
The disease is more common in older adults, with many new cases diagnosed in people aged 60 and above.
Bladder cancer is also more common in men than in women, possibly because in the past, men tend to smoke more and work in the manufacturing industry.
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