Does Bladder Cancer Spread To Distant Parts Of The Body
Rarely , it has spread to distant parts of the body. Black patients are slightly more likely to have more advanced disease when theyre diagnosed, compared to whites. Survival statistics are discussed in Survival Rates for Bladder Cancer. Visit the American Cancer Societys Cancer Statistics Center for more key statistics.
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Signs Of Bladder Cancer That Women Should Know
Even if you’re vigilant about getting routine GYN care, bladder cancer may not really be on your radar. After all, it’s far more common among men than women, and the majority of cases affect patients over age 65. But don’t let those stats keep you from learning to spot the symptoms. Many people mistakenly think bladder cancer is only a disease of older men, but there are more than 18,000 women who are diagnosed with this cancer every year in the United States.
And because women may not be on the lookout for early bladder cancer symptoms, the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network reports that women are more likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer at an advanced stage. Knowing the symptoms can help you get diagnosed sooner, which can improve your prognosis.
Here are a few warning signs to watch for:
BLOOD IN YOUR URINE
This is the most common early symptom of bladder cancer, and it’s an easy one for women to overlookespecially because it’s typically painless and you can go weeks or even months between occurrences. Many women ignore this symptom because they connect it with menstruation or menopause. Women who have microscopic blood in the urine without symptoms of urgency/frequency or pain, often do not have a UTI, and in fact, the blood in the urine may be due to cancer or other conditions.
Why Is There A Disparity Between Men And Women With Bladder Cancer
In many cases, there are significant delays in diagnosing bladder cancer in women. Many women ignore the most basic symptomblood in the urine. They may associate it with menstruation or menopause and delay reporting this symptom to their doctors. Even after reporting the problem to their doctors, blood in the urine may be initially misdiagnosed. It may be seen as a symptom of post-menopausal bleeding, simple cystitis or a urinary tract infection. As a result, a bladder cancer diagnosis can be overlooked for a year or more.
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Living With Advanced Cancer
Advanced cancer usually means cancer that is unlikely to be cured. Some people can live for many months or years with advanced cancer. During this time palliative care services can help.
Most people continue to have treatment for advanced cancer as part of palliative care, as it helps manage the cancer and improve their day-to-day lives. Many people think that palliative care is for people who are dying but palliative care is for any stage of advanced cancer. There are doctors, nurses and other people who specialise in palliative care.
Treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy or another type of treatment. It can help in these ways:
- slow down how fast the cancer is growing
- shrink the cancer
- help you to live more comfortably by managing symptoms, like pain.
Treatment depends on:
- how far it has spread
- your general health
Types Of Bladder Cancer
There are several types of bladder cancer.
- Urothelial carcinoma : Urothelial carcinoma is by far the most common type of bladder cancer, accounting for over 90% of all cases. This cancer starts when the urothelial cells that line the bladder start to grow out of control. Urothelial cells also line other parts of the urinary tract. If you are diagnosed with bladder cancer, your entire urinary tract will be checked for tumors.
- Non-transitional carcinomas: Less common types of bladder cancer include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and small cell carcinoma.
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Treatment Of Bladder Cancer By Stage
Most of the time, treatment of bladder cancer is based on the tumors clinical stage when it’s first diagnosed. This includes how deep it’s thought to have grown into the bladder wall and whether it has spread beyond the bladder. Other factors, such as the size of the tumor, how fast the cancer cells are growing , and a persons overall health and preferences, also affect treatment options.
Treating Stage I Bladder Cancer
Stage I bladder cancers have grown into the connective tissue layer of the bladder wall , but have not reached the muscle layer.
Transurethral resection with fulguration is usually the first treatment for these cancers. But it’s done to help determine the extent of the cancer rather than to try to cure it. If no other treatment is given, many people will later get a new bladder cancer, which often will be more advanced. This is more likely to happen if the first cancer is high-grade .
Even if the cancer is found to be low grade , a second TURBT is often recommended several weeks later. If the doctor then feels that all of the cancer has been removed, intravesical BCG or intravesical chemo is usually given. If all of the cancer wasn’t removed, options are intravesical BCG or cystectomy .
If the cancer is high grade, if many tumors are present, or if the tumor is very large when it’s first found, radical cystectomy may be recommended.
For people who arent healthy enough for a cystectomy, radiation therapy might be an option, but the chances for cure are not as good.
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What Is The Best Test To Find Out If You Have Bladder Cancer
Ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to make pictures of the organs inside your body, like your bladder and kidneys. It can help show the size of a bladder cancer and if it has spread. Bone scan: A bone scan can help show if bladder cancer has spread to the bones. This test is not done unless you have bone pain.
Your Own Best Advocate: You
Cancer is scary. When first told you have cancer, you will likely feel overwhelmed. Your emotions might jump from upset to panic to anger to depression. And, you can go through these emotions in a matter of minutes. Give yourself time to process the feelings and work through them. Once you do, be ready to start your journey against bladder cancer. Here are some ways you can advocate for yourself along the way:6
Learn about your illness. Talk to your doctor and ask questions. Learn as much as you can through reputable websites, books, medical libraries, and support organizations.
Request a referral to a specialist. A urologist might not be the best type of doctor to treat bladder cancer. Instead, look for a urologic oncologist who can order tests and recommend treatments. Treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and surgery. Surgery can involve removing a portion of or all of your bladder.
Bring a trusted friend or relative with you to appointments. Dealing with a serious diagnosis like bladder cancer can be overwhelming, and you could forget what the doctor said after your appointment. A second person can help by taking notes and then remind you of important information later.
Research different treatments for bladder cancer. Listen carefully to the treatment options your doctor presents. Ask questions. Discuss the pros and cons of each and potential side effects. Discuss your choices and decision with your family.
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Treatment For Bladder Cancer
Treatment for bladder cancer depends on how quickly the cancer is growing. Treatment is different for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer and muscle-invasive bladder cancer.
You might feel confused or unsure about your treatment options and decisions. Its okay to ask your treatment team to explain the information to you more than once. Its often okay to take some time to think about your decisions.
When deciding on treatment for bladder cancer, you may want to discuss your options with a urologist, radiation oncologist and medical oncologist. Ask your GP for referrals.
Finding A Way Back To Pleasure
For most patients, the clitoris is unaffected by surgery and clitoral orgasms are still possible. However, even for those patients who lose clitoral sensitivity or those who struggle with vaginal intercouse, and pleasure are still achievable.
Having this surgery doesn’t mean the end of the sex life. There’s a lot that women can do to continue a healthy sex life, Apolo said. The most important part of that, she explained, is to communicate with your partner about what does and doesnt feel good.
Bartos said that single women may have an easier time achieving pleasure after bladder cancer compared to those in committed relationships. Single women progress through their new sexuality faster because they can pleasure themselves without pressure to satisfy someone else or feelings of self-esteem from a partner seeing them, she wrote in an email.
Of course, a caring partner could be a great source of support, but Apolo finds that a womans personality plays more of a part than her relationship status. It really depends on the person and how sexually active she was before the surgery, she said.
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Differences In Treating Women And Men
Research has shown that women are diagnosed with bladder cancer at later stages than men.3,4 Research also shows that bladder cancer in women can be more difficult to treat when it is diagnosed later. Researchers are still trying to understand why, but there may be several reasons for this.
First, women have different anatomy in the lower urinary tract than men. This by itself may put women at a higher risk of worse bladder cancer outcomes. For example, men and women have different types of urethras and different muscle structures around the bladder. Another reason may be that bladder cancer in women is often misdiagnosed as a UTI, menstruation, or menopausal bleeding.1-4
How Do Healthcare Providers Diagnose Bladder Cancer
Healthcare providers do a series of tests to diagnose bladder cancer, including:
- Urinalysis: Providers use a variety of tests to analyze your pee. In this case, they may do urinalysis to rule out infection.
- Cytology: Providers examine cells under a microscope for signs of cancer.
- Cystoscopy: This is the primary test to identify and diagnose bladder cancer. For this test, providers use a pencil-sized lighted tube called a cystoscope to view the inside of your bladder and urethra. They may use a fluorescent dye and a special blue light that makes it easier to see cancer in your bladder. Providers may also take tissue samples while doing cystoscopies.
If urinalysis, cytology and cystoscopy results show you have bladder cancer, healthcare providers then do tests to learn more about the cancer, including:
Healthcare providers then use what they learn about the cancer to stage the disease. Staging cancer helps providers plan treatment and develop a potential prognosis or expected outcome.
Bladder cancer can be either early stage or invasive .
The stages range from TA to IV . In the earliest stages , the cancer is confined to the lining of your bladder or in the connective tissue just below the lining, but hasnt invaded the main muscle wall of your bladder.
Stages II to IV denote invasive cancer:
A more sophisticated and preferred staging system is TNM, which stands for tumor, node involvement and metastases. In this system:
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What Every Woman Should Know
Doru Paul, MD, is triple board-certified in medical oncology, hematology, and internal medicine. He is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and attending physician in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Bladder cancer is cancer that starts in the cells of the bladdera hollow muscular organ in the lower pelvis that collects urine.
Older men have the highest rates of bladder cancer. Every year around 64,000 cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed in men, whereas only around 19,000 are diagnosed in women. Over 90% of cases occur in people over age 55.
Despite bladder cancer occurring more often in men, it tends to carry a worse prognosis for women.
When caught early, most cases of bladder cancer are highly treatable. Unfortunately, women are less likely than men to have their bladder cancer caught early.
Womens early symptoms, such as blood in the urine and painful urination, are easily mistaken for other more common conditions like postmenopausal bleeding and urinary tract infections . Because womens bladder cancer tends to be detected at a more advanced stage, it often carries a worse prognosis.
SEBASTIAN KAULITZKI / Getty Images
What Are The Symptoms
- Frequent or urgent need to urinate
- Painful or burning during urination
- Feeling the need to urinate, but not being able to pass urine
- Lower back pain on 1 side of the body
These symptoms can be very similar to the symptoms of a bladder infection or a urinary tract infection . Blood in the urine may be confused with menstruation or menopause. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these symptoms, or if you take antibiotics for a bladder infection or UTI and the symptoms remain. Bladder cancer treatments works best when the cancer is found early.3
Prognosis And Survival Rates For Bladder Cancer
When someone is diagnosed with bladder cancer, their doctor will give them a prognosis. A prognosis is the doctors opinion of how likely the cancer will spread and the chances of getting better. A prognosis depends on the type and stage of cancer, as well as the persons age and general health.
Bladder cancer can usually be effectively treated if it is found before it spreads outside the bladder.
If you have bladder cancer, your doctor will talk to you about your individual situation when working out your prognosis. Every persons experience is different, and there is support available to you.
Why Do Women Ignore Blood In Their Urine
Many women ignore blood in their urine because they think its normal in females. Other signs of bladder cancer are frequent or painful passing of urine, back pain, stomach pain and the feeling as if you need to go to the bathroom right away . Be sure to see a health care provider if you have any of these signs.
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Understanding What Bladder Cancer Really Is
You have likely heard of bladder cancer at one point or another, but do you really know what this disease consists of? Located in the bladder, bladder cancer, also called bladder carcinoma occurs from the rapid build-up and growth of cells within the bladder. Just like any cancer, when cells continue to grow out of control, tumors can form and have the potential to spread to other areas of the body. It is typically seen in older adults and can be treated when caught in its early stages.
Keep reading to learn the top five things women should know to successfully avoid, treat, and fully understand bladder cancer.
Bladder Cancer Risk Factors In Women
Smoking is the biggest risk factor for bladder cancer. Other risk factors for women include:4
- A family history of bladder cancer
- Some types of chemotherapy drugs
- Drinking well water contaminated with arsenic
- Having chronic urinary tract infections.
You can reduce your risk of developing bladder cancer by quitting smoking and limiting exposure to manufacturing chemicals.5
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Coping With Bladder Cancer
Every type of cancer comes along with its own set of emotional, physical, and financial burdens and challenges to overcome. The best way to cope with bladder cancer is to be completely honest about how youre feeling and prepare and educate yourself to the best of your ability. Put your health first, take action on treating the pain the side effects may cause, and live your life to the fullest!
Transurethral Resection Of A Bladder Tumour
If abnormalities are found in your bladder during a cystoscopy, you should be offered an operation known as TURBT. This is so any abnormal areas of tissue can be removed and tested for cancer .
TURBT is carried out under general anaesthetic.
Sometimes, a sample of the muscle wall of your bladder is also taken to check whether the cancer has spread, but this may be a separate operation within 6 weeks of the first biopsy.
You should also be offered a dose of chemotherapy after the operation. This may help to prevent the bladder cancer returning if the removed cells are found to be cancerous.
See treating bladder cancer for more information about the TURBT procedure
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How To Lower Your Bladder Cancer Risk
For most men and women, the best way to lower bladder cancer risk is to quit smoking. Smokers are overall twice as likely to develop bladder cancer compared with nonsmokers.
Other risk factors for bladder cancer include:
- Family history of bladder cancer
- Chronic bladder problems and urinary tract infections
- Chronic use of urinary catheters
- Age older than 70
Bladder Cancer Treatment: Surgery
Early-stage cancers are most commonly treated by transurethral surgery. An instrument with a small wire loop is inserted through the urethra and into the bladder. The loop removes a tumor by cutting or burning it with electrical current, allowing it to be extracted from the bladder.
Partial and Radical Cystectomy
Partial cystectomy includes the removal of part of the bladder. This operation is usually for low-grade tumors that have invaded the bladder wall but are limited to a small area of the bladder. In a radical cystectomy, the entire bladder is removed, as well as its surrounding lymph nodes and other areas that contain cancerous cells. If the cancer has metastasized outside of the bladder and into neighboring tissue, other organs may also be removed such as the uterus and ovaries in women and the prostate in men.
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