Bladder cancer is one of most common cancers affecting both men and women. About 81,400 people will be diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2020 alone. The average age of diagnosis is 73.
Most people experience no symptoms. The most common symptom is blood in one’s urine, followed by less-common symptoms like frequent urge to urinate and pain while urinating.
If your physician suspects bladder cancer, they will order a series of tests:
- A urinalysis, looking for cancer cells in your urine
- A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) to check blood levels
- An x-ray, CT scan, MRI, PET scan, or cystoscopy to get a visual of your bladder.
If cancer is confirmed, your physician will stage the cancer in terms of how far it has spread, from T1 to T4.
The best chance for survival is an early diagnosis. Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer, your age, and overall health. Treatments can be divided into two main categories:
Chemotherapy with radiation. First, your physician will perform a transurethral resection of bladder tumour to remove the cancer. Then they will use chemotherapy in combination with radiation. Regular checkups to ensure the cancer does not return are required.
Cystectomy (removal of bladder). This can either be radical or partial:
- A radical cystectomy removes the entire bladder, as well as nearby lymph nodes, part of the urethra, and the prostate (in men) or uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and part of the vagina (in women). This will require a urinary diversion procedure as well to replace the function of the bladder, and can include chemotherapy either before or after the surgery.
- A partial cystectomy means only a portion of the bladder is removed. Tests are conducted to ensure the entire tumor has been removed.