Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the cells of the bladder. Bladder cancer symptoms can include blood in your urine, pain urinating, and pelvic pain. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or any other symptoms that worry you, see your doctor as soon as possible.
If your doctor suspects you might have bladder cancer, you will probably be referred to a urologist. This is a doctor who specializes in treating diseases and conditions of the urinary tract. You might also be referred to an oncologist, which is a doctor who specializes in treating cancer.
Bladder Cancer Diagnosis
There are many different tests, exams, and procedures that are used to diagnose bladder cancer. These include:
- Cystoscopy: This procedure involves inserting a narrow tube equipped with a lens and fiber-optic lighting system through your urethra. This allows your doctor to examine the inside of your urethra and bladder for any abnormalities.
- Biopsy: Sometimes during a cystoscopy, the doctor might also insert a small tool into your bladder in order to collect a small cell sample for testing.
- Urine cytology: This involves analyzing a sample of your urine under a microscope in order to check for any cancer cells that might be present.
- Imaging tests: This could include a computerized tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), X-rays, and bone scans. Sometimes dye is injected into your veins in order to highlight your bladder.
Bladder Cancer Staging
After you have a confirmed diagnosis, you will probably undergo some additional testing in order to determine the exact stage of your disease. The staging information will help your doctor decide what the best route of treatment for you is. The stages for bladder cancer include:
- Stage I: The cancer is contained to the bladder’s inner lining and has not yet invaded the muscular bladder wall.
- Stage II: The cancer has invaded the bladder wall, but it is still confined to the bladder.
- Stage III: The cancer has spread through the bladder wall into the surrounding tissue.
- Stage IV: The cancer has spread to distant lymph nodes and other organs such as your liver, lungs, or bones.
Bladder Cancer Support
Even though most cases of bladder cancer are highly treatable, this type of cancer also has a high recurrence rate, meaning that it is likely to come back after it has been successfully treated. Because of this, it can be hard to deal with not only being diagnosed with bladder cancer, but also with the threat of its return in the future.
You should always attend your follow-up testing and appointments even after you bladder cancer is gone. Make sure you take good care of yourself by eating healthy, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. Not only will these decrease the chance of your bladder cancer returning, but they will also make your body more equipped to fight the cancer if it does come back. Finally, try joining a support group so you can talk with other survivors in your area about your struggles.
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