Bladder, or specifically urinary bladder, is a flexible, hollow pouch like structure present within the pelvis and is concerned with the storage of urine prior to its excretion. Urine, which is prepared by the kidneys, is carried to the bladder through the ureters. The bladder stores this urine and later discharges it through a tube like structure known as the urethra.
Bladder cancer is defined as a condition characterised mainly by rapid and uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells within the urinary bladder. This condition usually initiates within the lining of the bladder and may later spread into the muscular wall of the urinary bladder. Moreover, invasive bladder cancer may spread to lymph nodes, kidneys, lungs, liver and other organs present in the pelvis.
Bladder cancer, though rare (accounting to about 5% of all cancers), is seen affect males more frequently than females. The actual reason for the development of bladder cancer is still unknown to doctors. However, the possible risk factors that may lead to such a condition include genetic constitution or family history, chronic inflammation of the bladder, smoking, certain medications for treating diabetes, exposure to harmful chemicals, prior chemotherapy or radiation treatment and others.
The common symptoms of bladder cancer involve pelvic pain, blood in urine (haematuria), pain during urination. In addition to this, the patients may also experience symptoms like frequent urination, swollen feet, sudden weight loss, loss of appetite, back pain and others. It is highly recommended for people having such symptoms to consult their doctor, as soon as possible.
A systematic and successful diagnosis is a pre-requisite for the treatment of bladder cancer. The doctor may ask questions regarding the patient’s medical history and family history regarding cases of bladder cancer. This is followed by several physical examinations, laboratory tests and imaging tests. Once a patient is diagnosed as having bladder cancer, he/she is accordingly treated depending upon the severity of the condition.
As already mentioned, the treatment of bladder cancer requires proper diagnosis in the first place. The doctor may feel it necessary to know about the medical history and family history of the patient, in order to be sure whether the cause of this condition is due to genetic reasons.
Diagnosis of bladder cancer involves physical examinations like pelvic examination and digital rectal examination. If the doctor finds the occurrence of any tumour then he/she may recommend or further laboratory and imaging tests. Such laboratory tests include urine tests (such as urinalysis, urine culture, urine cytology and urine tumour marker tests) and cystoscopy. If the doctor finds a tumour during such a test, then he/she may recommend for a surgery known as transurethral resection of bladder tumour (TURBT), where the tumour and a part of the bladder muscle near it is removed. A sample of the tumour is sent for biopsy in order to be sure whether it is cancer. The various imaging tests used for the diagnosis of bladder cancer include intravenous pyelogram, retrograde pyelogram, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scan, ultrasound imaging, bone scan and chest scan. Once the patient is diagnosed as having bladder cancer, he/she is treated depending upon the severity of the condition.
The treatment of bladder cancer involves surgery, immunotherapy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Surgery involves removal of the tumour and a part of the muscles near it and this method is referred to as transurethral resection of bladder tumour (TURBT). Another method called “cystectomy” involves partial or complete removal of the bladder. Other treatments like immunotherapy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy aim at killing the harmful cancerous cells. It is important to remember that there is no complete cure for bladder cancer. Treatment can be done only to prevent or reduce the possible symptoms that the patient suffers from, during this condition.
Any person having symptoms like pelvic pain, blood in urine (haematuria), pain during urination, frequent urination, swollen feet, sudden weight loss, loss of appetite, back pain and is diagnosed to be suffering from bladder cancer, is considered to be eligible for this treatment. It is always recommended that a person, having such symptoms, should contact his/her doctor as soon as possible and should go for the necessary treatment procedures.
Any person, who is normal and is not suffering from the symptoms of bladder cancer, is considered as not eligible for this treatment.
Similar to other cancer treatments, the treatment for bladder cancer also has its side effects. However, the intensity of these side effects varies according to the treatment procedure undertaken. The side effects for surgical treatments like radical cystectomy and segmental cystectomy involve interruption of the patient’s sexual function, sudden menopause and inability to get pregnant (in women), increased frequency in urination and inability to hold urine for a long time. Other side effects of treatment involving immunotherapy, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy include nausea, vomiting, discomfort during urination, diarrhoea, vaginal dryness (for women), erectile problems (in men), loss of hair, loss of appetite, weakness, mouth sores, low grade fever or chills and others. It is recommended that the patients should consult with their doctor, if they happen to suffer from any of these side effects, during the course of treatment.
The treatment for bladder cancer may require months or even years for its completion. However, the patient still needs to go through several follow up examinations every few months for a number of years. The patient should attend all the follow up treatments as directed by his/her doctor and go for regular chemotherapy and radiation therapy along with other physical examinations. This should be done in order to check the possibilities of reoccurrence of cancer, as well as the probable side effects of such treatments. Almost all cancer treatments have their side effects and so it is important that the patient must inform his/her doctor regarding this issue and seek the necessary remedial measures.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for bladder cancer, but the symptoms can be managed by surgical treatment as well as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The life span of the patients, who have been diagnosed as having this problem, mainly depends upon the severity of the condition and the type of treatment that he/she is undergoing. On an average, the treatment for bladder cancer may take months or years for its completion.
The price of the treatment for bladder cancer usually varies in different parts of India. The treatment cost may also vary depending upon the severity of the condition and the type of treatment that the patient undergoes. On an average, the price of treatment for bladder cancer ranges from Rs. 12,85,635 to Rs. 27,44,409. This treatment is available in almost all leading hospitals in India.
The results of the treatment for bladder cancer are not permanent and there lies a chance for the cancer to reoccur after a certain period of time. Since complete cure for this problem is not available, it is highly recommended that the patient should go for regular check-ups, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other tests in order to check the progress of such a cancer.
There are no such alternatives for the treatment of bladder cancer. Surgery, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are regarded as the best methods of treatment for this problem. However, after surgery, treatment with mistletoe extracts has been proven to be effective in reducing tumour recurrence. Mistletoe extracts have been found to act upon the proteins that affect cancer and can be used for patients with malignancies, during the initial stages. Later stages of such cancers can be quite complicated and cannot be effectively cured.