Bladder Cancer Symptoms and Causes

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The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower abdomen which collects and stores urine that is produced by the kidneys. There are three to six that can serve the bladder. Two enter from above and drain the kidneys into the bladder and the last, called the urethra, empties the bladder of urine to outside the body.

As the bladder fills with urine it stretches and gets larger. When it reaches capacity the wall of the bladder contracts which stimulates nerves that indicate to the brain that the bladder should be emptied.

With the growth of any cancer, normal cells undergo a transformation. They begin to grow and multiply without the normal controls that inhibit them from over growth. As the cells continue to grow in number they form a tumor. Tumors overwhelm the surrounding tissue by invading space and taking away the oxygen and nutrients that other tissues need to survive and function.

Tumors are considered cancerous if they are malignant. This means that the tumor continues to grow uncontrollably and invade neighboring tissues and organs. Malignant tumors are also able to travel through the bloodstream or the lymphatic tissue to grow in distant organ systems. The process of spreading to other organs is called metastasis.

Bladder cancer is a common form of cancer in the United States. Researchers have also determined that it is a significant problem in other industrialized nations such as France and Canada. Unfortunately, symptoms of bladder cancer are a few, but very noticeable.

Symptoms can include blood in the urine which is called hematuria. The amount applied may be able to be seen by the naked eye or may only be visible under the microscope. Individuals may also suffer from pain during urination and the urge to urinate frequently during the night.

These three symptoms belong to bladder cancer but also indicate other medical conditions such as kidney infection or bladder infection. Kidney stones and bladder stones can also cause these symptoms. It is important for individuals who experience symptoms to seek the advice of their primary care physician or urologist in order to get a definitive diagnosis. If a bladder or kidney infection is overlooked it can cause permanent damage to the kidneys.

Diagnosis of bladder cancer will occur through physical examination, medical history, urine tests, intravenous pyleograms and cystoscopy.

At this time no one knows the exact causes of bladder cancer but doctors do understand some of the risk factors that place the individual at an increased risk for developing the disease. However, most people with known risk factors may not get bladder cancer, and many who do get the disease have none of the factors.

Some studies indicate that age is related to bladder cancer because people under the age of 40 rarely get the disease. The use of tobacco is a significant risk factor and individuals who worked in an environment with carcinogens have a higher risk of getting bladder cancer. Being infected with specific parasites will increase the risk as well is treatment with specific drugs used to treat other cancers. Whites will get bladder cancer twice as often as African-Americans or Hispanics and being a man places you at two to three times the risk than women. People who have already had a diagnosis of bladder cancer will be an increased risk of getting the disease once again.

Individuals who believe they may be at greater risk for bladder cancer may want to discuss their concerns with their primary care physician and develop a plan for prevention were screening that puts their mind at ease. Individuals who have symptoms should also approach their primary care physician for a diagnosis and early treatments.

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