Suffering from Bladder Cancer?
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Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is known to have a wide range of urinary symptoms, from kidney infections to bloody urine. While it can be easily treated if caught in the early stages, bladder cancer is known to reoccur so it is important to choose the best physician and follow-up plans.

The initial indicators of the disease are mainly benign, but over time they worsen. Bladder cancer is a leading type of cancer in the United States with up to 70,000 patients a year diagnosed with the disease. About 20 percent of those die as a result.

Bladder Cancer Risk Factors

There are several risk factors that put patients in jeopardy for developing bladder cancer:

  • Smoking - Bladder cancer occurs twice as often in smokers than nonsmokers.
  • Occupational Exposure - Workplace exposure to chemicals and other toxic materials are known to cause bladder cancer.
  • Reoccurring bladder infections - Repeated irritation of the urinary bladder can lead to cancer.
  • Gender - Men are four times more likely to develop bladder cancer than women.
  • Age - Patients over age 65 have a higher risk of the disease.
  • Race - The disease is known to develop in Caucasians more than Blacks or Hispanics.
  • Personal history - Bladder cancer is known to reoccur.
  • Family history - Those with family members who have had bladder cancer have a higher risk for the disease.

Actos (pioglitazone) - Studies confirm that the type 2 diabetes drug is linked to a 40 percent increased risk for developing bladder cancer for those taking the drug longer than a year.

A bladder-cancer diagnosis may come after a severe urinary tract infection (UTI) or after a routine doctor’s visit. Doctors run a series of tests to confirm the diagnosis and determine the extent of the disease. These include noninvasive tests, such as blood work and CT scans, and invasive tests, such as a bladder biopsy.

Bladder Cancer Staging

Like other forms of cancer, bladder cancer is staged, or classified, using the TNM system. This looks at the tumors (T), lymph-node involvement (N) and metastasis (M).

  • Stage I -- The cancer is in the bladder lining but has not penetrated the bladder wall, which is made of muscle.
  • Stage II -- The cancerous tumors have infiltrated the bladder wall, but are confined to just the bladder.
  • Stage III -- The cancer tumors have spread to nearby surrounding tissue. In men, this is usually the prostate and in women it is the uterus or vaginal area.
  • Stage IV -- In this stage, the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and outer organs including the lungs and liver.

Once doctors know the patient’s cancer stage, a clear-cut treatment plan can be established.

Top Doctors and Cancer Centers

Most major cancer centers throughout the United States have specialized bladder cancer treatment centers. For patients suffering with any stage of bladder cancer, it is critical to find quality medical care immediately. Some treatment centers have made remarkable advances in disease treatment:

Stanford University Medical Center (California) -- Researchers here recently discovered a single type of cell that is responsible for most forms of invasive bladder cancer. This cell may be able to explain why the disease reoccurs. The medical center has a urological cancer program with advanced imaging equipment for early and advanced detection.

MD Anderson Cancer Center (Texas) -- The cancer center’s specialized bladder cancer team works to improve the national survival rates. Doctors here use the most advance procedures including Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) and immunotherapy. It’s also one of the few cancer centers nationally that houses the bladder cancer SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) research program.

Memorial Sloan Kettering (New York) -- Sloan Kettering offers patients advanced care from quality physicians. They are leaders in the multidisciplinary approach, which includes chemotherapy and surgery. Sloan Kettering physicians believe this approach is the fastest and most accurate way to a cure.

Sources:

Mayo Clinic. Bladder Cancer Tests and Diagnosis. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bladder-cancer/DS00177/DSECTION=tests-and-…

National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. Bladder Cancer Treatment. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/bladder/patient

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