Bladder cancer is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. It is most frequently found in patients 55 years or older with blood in the urine. Exposure to cigarette smoke or certain industrial chemicals are strong risk factors. Chronic bladder irritation, indwelling catheters or a history of pelvic radiation also increase risk for bladder cancer.
Diagnosis can include various tests:
- Cystoscopy: passage of a thin scope through the urethra into the bladder allowing the doctor to visually examine the inner lining of the bladder. If a lesion is found, usually it is biopsied in a similar manner in the operating room.
- Urine Cytology: a pathologist checks for cancer cells in the urine.
- Radiology testing: typically includes a CT urogram or IVP, tests that evaluate the inner lining of the kidneys and their drainage systems.
- Fluorescence in Situ Hybridization (FISH): testing for genetic abnormalities of cells in the urine.
Treatments can include:
- Transurethral resection (TUR): after passing a scope through the urethra into the bladder, the doctor “shaves out” the tumor.
- Immunotherapy: instillation of bacteria called BCG into the bladder to stimulate the body’s immune system to fight cancer in the bladder.
- Radical cystectomy: surgical removal of the entire bladder and surrounding structures, with lymph node excision and reconstruction of the urinary tract.
- Chemotherapy: chemicals intended to kill tumor cells. Typically given intravenously by a medical oncologist either before a curative operation or as primary treatment if the cancer has spread outside of the bladder.
The doctors at Fore River Urology are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer. They will review all treatment options, tailored to your individual situation. For an appointment, please call 207-518-6600.
Excellent information for patients is available at the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network website.