By: Dr. Gary Bellman on November 11, 2013
A tumor can form in any part of the body, and the bladder is no exception. A bladder tumor
forms when bladder cells overgrow, an event that causes a mass or lesion to form. Often times, excess bladder cell reproduction creates a mass that is somewhat like a wart in the bladder.
Bladder tumors can be benign, which means they stay in one place and do not spread to other tissues. They can also be malignant
, meaning they are cancerous and capable of moving to other parts of the body. It is malignant bladder tumors that are potentially life-threatening
Certain types of people are more at risk of developing bladder tumors than others. For example, men are more likely to develop them than women
, and they are most frequently diagnosed in those over the age of 50
. In fact, only 1% of bladder cancer is diagnosed in those who are under 40.
The exact causes of bladder cancer is uncertain. However, several things may make you more likely to develop this cancer. Those include cigarette smoking, chemical exposure, and bladder infection (a long-term (chronic) bladder infection or irritation). Some research has suggested a link between artificial sweeteners and bladder cancer, although the current evidence is weak.
Symptoms of bladder cancer include
• abdominal pain
• blood in the urine
• bone pain or tenderness if the cancer spreads to the bone
• painful urination
• urinary frequency
• urinary urgency
• urine leakage (incontinence)
• weight loss
Tests that are carried out include:
- An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual will. Also, a history of the patient’s health habits, past illnesses, and treatments will also be taken.
- Internal exam- An exam of the vagina and/or rectum to feel for lump.
- Urinalysis- A test to check the color of urine and its contents, such as sugar, protein, red blood cells, and white blood cells.
- Urine cytology- An examination of urine under a microscope to check for abnormal cells.
- Cystoscopy- A procedure to look inside the bladder and urethra to check for abnormal areas; A cystoscope is inserted through the urethra into the bladder using a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue samples, which are checked under a microscope for signs of cancer.
- IVP- A series of x-rays of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder to find out if cancer is present in these organs.
- CT scan (CAT scan)- A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles.
- Biopsy- The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. A biopsy for bladder cancer is usually done during cystoscopy. It may be possible to remove the entire tumor during biopsy.
Tests that examine the urine, vagina, or rectum are used to help detect and diagnose bladder cancer. If tests confirm you have bladder cancer, additional tests will be done to see if the cancer has spread. This is called staging. Staging helps guide future treatment and follow-up and gives you some idea of what to expect in the future.
Although most bladder cancers are diagnosed early on, other diseases and conditions can cause similar symptoms. It’s important to see a specialist to rule out all other possible causes.