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Bladder Cancer

The bladder is a hollow organ in the pelvis with flexible, muscular walls. Its primary function is to store urine before it leaves the body. The kidneys produce urine. From the kidneys, urine is carried to the bladder through tubes called ureters. Afterward, it is excreted through the urethra.

The bladder has four main layers:

  • The transitional or urothelium is the innermost layer.
  • The laminia propria is beneath the urothelium and is comprised of a thin layer of connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves.
  • Next is the muscularis propria, which is a thick layer of muscle.
  • Outside of this muscle, a layer of fatty connective tissue separates the bladder from other close by organs.

Ninety-five percent of bladder cancers occur in the transitional / urothelium layer. When cancers are noninvasive, they have occurred only in the transitional layer. When they have grown past the transitional layer, they are considered invasive.

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

Many patients with bladder cancer have no obvious symptoms. When bladder cancer is symptomatic, blood in the urine is the main symptom. Most of the time, however, the blood is not visible and only seen on the microscope. This symptom is usually painless.

Risk Factors for Bladder Cancer

Certain risk factors increase your chance for getting bladder cancer:

  • Cigarette smoking, which is estimated to cause 50% of bladder cancers
  • Chronic bladder inflammation
  • Exposure to industrial chemicals
  • Exposure to chemotherapy or radiation therapy for other cancers
  • Gender; men are at higher risk than women
  • Family history of bladder cancer

Diagnosing Bladder Cancer

If there is blood in your urine, your doctor will conduct a thorough medical history and perform a physical exam. Some of the tests done to evaluate whether cancer is present are:

  • Ultrasound of the urinary tract
  • Urine cytology to check for cancer cells
  • Urine FISH: A test that checks for cancer DNA
  • Cystoscopy
  • CT scan and/or intravenous pyelogram

Treatment for Bladder Cancer

Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer, the type of cancer, and the patient’s age and overall state of health. Your doctor will develop a personalized treatment plan. Treatment options include:

  • Transurethral resection
  • Radical cystectomy (removal of the bladder)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Immunotherapy

In Miami, contact urologist Dr. Marvin Bondhus for unparalleled care of bladder cancer. Call (305) 661-9692 today for a consultation or request one online.