Bladder cancer symptoms are nonspecific and sometimes can represent other urologic disorders. For this reason, our physicians perform specific screening studies to aid in the diagnosis. They perform a step by step approach to ensure the precise diagnosis is made for each patient.
There are many associated factors, which increase the risk of bladder cancer. Smoking and tobacco use carry the greatest risk, contributing to over half of the cases. Smokers carry four times the risk of developing bladder cancer compared to nonsmokers. Smoking cessation does decrease this risk somewhat with time.
Bladder cancer usually presents with blood in the urine (hematuria). It is either seen by the naked eye (gross hematuria) or by visualization under the microscope (microscopic hematuria) at the doctor’s office. Other symptoms sometimes associated with bladder cancer include frequent, painful urination and urgency of urination.
Many urologic diseases may also cause blood in the urine such as urinary tract infections, enlarged prostate (BPH), and kidney stones. For this reason imaging studies such as CT scan and intravenous pyelogram are used to help evaluate the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters and bladder) for abnormalities. These imaging studies involve injecting a dye that travels through the body and into the urinary tract to help give a highly defined view of the system. Cystoscopy is another exam used to evaluate for abnormalities within the bladder itself. It is a simple procedure in which a camera with a thin flexible tube is placed into the bladder through the urethra to directly visualize the lining of bladder. Cystoscopy can be done in our office.
Treatment for bladder cancer may involve tumor removal, chemotherapy, and/or complete bladder removal. Treatment is based on the type of bladder cancer found. You and your physician will discuss treatment options and plan a course of action that best suits your disease and lifestyle.