One of the more common types of cancer is bladder cancer. Typically, a bladder cancer patient is in his or her 70s, although about 10% of the people who have bladder cancer are under the age of 55. Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men, but it is significantly less common in women.
Thankfully, bladder cancer can usually be detected fairly early and, by familiarizing yourself with its symptoms, you can find out when you should seek diagnosis and treatment. Here are the common symptoms of bladder cancer and a short explanation of the course of the cancer and its treatment.
Typically, the symptom that shows up at the earliest stage of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. In some cases, the urine may just be dark, rather than red. Also, it is not always consistent. You may experience blood in the urine for a few days at a time, then not see any blood at all for a week or more before it reappears. In these cases, the blood is often still present, but not in a quantity that would cause a change in the appearance of the urine, although a test will be able to detect it.
Other symptoms include frequent and/or painful urination and back pain. If you have these symptoms, you should seek medical advice.
Keep in mind that, although it is never a healthy sign when there is urine in your blood, bladder cancer is not the only reason you may see these symptoms. More often, blood in the urine and the frequent urge to urinate or even painful urination may be a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI), which is generally easy to treat. Blood in the urine can also be a sign of a kidney injury or kidney stones, or may indicate some other type of bladder problem. So while it is important to note any changes in the appearance of your urine and to see a medical professional anytime you have blood in your urine, you cannot assume that you have bladder cancer just from these early symptoms. Only a medical professional, along with appropriate testing, can give you an accurate diagnosis.
Advanced bladder cancer is obviously more serious, but even then, it is usually contained in and around the bladder. As noted above, when detected early, the cancer is usually only in the lining of the bladder. As it spreads, it can reach the deeper layers of the bladder. In time, it may affect the lymph nodes and other tissues outside the bladder. Only rarely does it spread to the other parts of the body. As these stages progress, your symptoms will be more acute, such as being unable to urinate and experiencing unintentional weight loss or pain extending beyond the bladder to the lower back or perineum.
For these reasons and others, early detection is the key. The more the cancer is given an opportunity to grow or spread, the more likely you will need extensive treatment, and the less positive your prognosis will be.
Bladder Cancer Treatment Options Through Beacon Cancer Care
If you have been diagnosed with bladder cancer, there are numerous treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy, or a combination of these methods. You will have to determine what is the best for you in consultation with your doctor. At Beacon Cancer Care, we can help you put together a comprehensive treatment plan and support you throughout your cancer journey no matter which option you choose.
The prognosis is generally good for bladder cancer; bladder cancer patients have a high rate of survival. However, even when therapy is successful, bladder cancer can return. Consequently, following any bladder cancer treatment, it is necessary to continue to be tested regularly to determine whether there are any indications that the cancer has returned.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of bladder cancer, consult a doctor right away. And if you are diagnosed with bladder cancer, contact us at Beacon Cancer Care to obtain the compassionate cancer care you deserve.