Archive for the ‘Bladder Cancer’ Category

What We Know About Bladder Cancer Today

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Frank Sinatra. Jaime Escalante (Stand and Deliver). Dominick Dunne. Hubert Humphrey. What do these men have in common? All were over 40, several smoked cigarettes, and all of them died as they struggled with bladder cancer.

Of course, we know so much more about this disease today than ever before, including risk factors for bladder cancer like smoking, age and gender. And, whatever the cause of the bladder cancer, we understand from the experts that early diagnosis is, front and center, key to successful treatment of bladder cancer today.

What is Bladder Cancer?

According to medical experts at the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, bladder cancer is a cancerous tumor that’s found in the bladder which is the organ that holds and contains urine. The symptoms of bladder cancer can oftentimes be the same symptoms for other conditions. They include blood in the urine, urinary urgency and frequency, and painful urination. Other symptoms include stomach pain, fatigue, weight loss, and urinary incontinence, among others. If you experience these symptoms, you are advised to consult a health care professional for diagnosis and treatment.

What Causes Bladder Cancer?

Experts don’t know exactly what causes bladder cancer. In this country, the United States, bladder cancer usually starts in the cells that line the bladder or “transitional cells.” In other countries, bladder cancer may begin in a different way, and be far more extensive or invasive. With bladder cancer, some tumors in the bladder are more difficult to treat than others, depending upon their shape, appearance, and invasiveness.

Bladder Cancer and Contributing Factors

What experts do know is that there are several factors that contribute to the development of bladder cancer or increase your risk of developing bladder cancer. These include:

Tobacco Use. Cigarette smoking seems to increase the risk of developing bladder cancer significantly. Experts indicate that half of all cases of bladder cancers in men and one-third of all bladder cancers in women are likely caused by smoking tobacco.

Chemical Exposure. Experts suggest that bladder cancer is likely caused by exposure to cancer-causing agents and chemicals called, “carcinogens.” These include dyes and pesticides.

Radiation and Chemotherapy. Some women who receive radiation therapy, according to medical experts, are at increased risk for bladder cancer, as are some patients who have been treated with the chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide (or Cytoxan).

Chronic Bladder Infection. An aggressive form of bladder infection has been shown to increase risk of bladder cancer.

Parasites. Outside the United States, some parasites have been shown to increase the risk of bladder cancer. Foreign nationals and globetrotters need to be especially careful in protecting themselves against the possibility of infection.

Risk Factors for Developing Bladder Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, studies indicate there are several risk factors for bladder cancer, among them:

Age. The risk of developing bladder cancer increases with age. Rarely, does bladder cancer present itself in patients under the age of 40 years.

Smoking. Tobacco is suspected of being a leading cause of bladder cancer. Smokers are generally three times more likely to develop bladder cancer than non-smokers.

Occupational Exposure and Hazards. Anyone working in industries or work settings where they are likely to handle chemicals is at increase risk of bladder cancer. This includes truck drivers, machinists, hairdressers, printers, and more.

Infections. Parasitic infections can increase your risk of developing bladder cancer down the line.

Gender. Men are more likely to develop bladder cancer than women. Experts suspect this is because of occupational exposure more than anything else.

Chlorine Exposure. The jury’s out on chlorine, but chlorine exposure is suspected of increasing risk of developing bladder cancer.

Use of Saccharin. The jury’s also out on Saccharin’s role in causing bladder cancer, but for many years this artificial sweetener has been shown to cause cancer in animals.

What If You Have Symptoms?

Early detection and treatment are critical components in fighting bladder cancer. If you have any of the symptoms described above, or have one or more of the risk factors, discuss these and other concerns with your doctor and health care professionals.

It is important to note that bladder cancer is highly treatable in its early stages, especially if has been confined to the bladder. Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy. Your doctor and clinical health care team are well-positioned to consult with you on these symptoms and, if needed, on your diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.

RESOURCES

Bladder Cancer
Mayo Clinic

Bladder Cancer Treatment Overview
WebMD

Bladder Cancer
National Cancer Institute, US National Institutes of Health

Medline Plus
http://medlineplus.gov

What Causes Bladder Cancer?

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Bladder cancer is characterized by the overgrowth of anomalous cells which cause cancerous masses or tumors in the bladder. If found and treated early, the individual can have a good outcome.

Causes of bladder cancer

As happens with most cancers, it is difficult to tell what the exact cause of bladder cancer is, but there are some factors which contribute in its development:

Smoking – Smoking is a huge factor; 50 percent of men who smoke are at risk for bladder cancer. Likewise, 30 percent of women who smoke are also at risk.

Chemical exposure at working place – Twenty-five percent of bladder cancer cases result from exposure to some kind of cancer-causing chemicals in the workplace. Workers at the highest risks for bladder cancer include aluminum workers, dye workers and leather workers. Other workers at risk for bladder cancer are those who work with pesticides, those who work in rubber factories and truck drivers.

Bladder infections – Chronic bladder infections could put you at risk for squamous cell bladder cancer. However, chronic bladder infections don’t put you at risk for transitional cell cancer in the bladder. Transitional cells are those which can expand and contract as the bladder fills and empties.

Chemotherapy and radiation – Women, having cervical cancer and undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment, may have a higher risk of developing bladder cancer.

Parasite infection – People having an infection of the schistosomiasis parasite have may also be at risk for bladder cancer. People who live or vacation in parts of Asia, Africa, South America and the West indies could come into contact with this parasite. The schistosomiasis parasite lives in snails and the water they live in. The parasite can live comfortably in the human gut and urinary tract; they can cause an abnormal growth of cells which can become cancerous.

Symptoms of bladder cancer

Some of the most common symptoms of bladder cancer can easily be mistaken for some other type of illness. The symptoms include:

Abdominal pain
Anemia
Blood in the urine
Fatigue
Frequency of urination
Urgent need to urinate
Painful urination
Bone tenderness
Unexplained weight loss

If you are having any of these symptoms, it is important to report them to your doctor. The symptoms may not indicate bladder cancer, but you won’t know unless you let a medical professional examine you.

Diagnostic tests for bladder cancer

There are some diagnostic tests which can be performed to detect bladder cancer including:

Abdominal CT scan – A CT scan of the abdomen will allow the radiologist to see the structures there.

Biopsy of bladder – A small amount of tissue is taken from the bladder and studied under a microscope.

Cystoscopy – This procedure allows the doctor to look inside your bladder with a camera

Intravenous pyelogram – This is an X-ray taken with an ionizing (radioactive) contrast medium which allows the doctor to visualize the kidneys and bladder. If tumors are present the IV pyelogram will allow them to be visible.

Urinalysis and Urine cytology – A urinalysis will identify the types of cells in the urine, such as the different types of white blood cells and cells that have sloughed off from the lining of the bladder. Urine cytology might be done to identify specific cancerous changes in epithelial cells.

Treatment options for bladder cancer

Primary Stage (0 and 1) treatments – At these stages it may be necessary to surgically remove the tumor without removing the entire bladder. The patient will likely undergo chemotherapy treatments directly to the bladder.

Intermediate Stage (2 and 3) treatments – At these stages it may be necessary to surgically remove the bladder. Chemotherapy may be given first to reduce the size of the tumor prior to surgery. Chemo and radiation may be an option for patients who aren’t physically able to undergo surgery.

Last Stage (stage 4) treatments – Stage 4 bladder cancer is as bad as it gets. Surgery is not usually advisable; chemotherapy may or may not be given at this stage. The doctor and the patient should decide if chemotherapy would be advisable.

Types of therapies to treat bladder cancer

Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy can be given to stage 2 and 3 patients; chemo is often indicated before or after surgery to prevent the tumor from returning. Chemotherapy can be given as single drug or as different drug combinations, which may include: Carboplatin, Cyclophosphamide, Cisplatin, Docetaxel, Gemcitabine, Doxorubicin, Ifosfamide, Paclitaxel, Methotrexate and Vinblastine.

Immunotherapy – In immunotherapy, medicines are given to influence the patient’s immune system, so that the immune system can attack and kill the cancer cells. The immunotherapy vaccine, Bacille Calmette-Guerin vaccine (known as BCG), is administered via a Foley catheter straight into the bladder to treat bladder cancer.

Trans Urethral Resection of Bladder (TURB) – Bladder cancer of stage 0 or 1 can be treated through Trans Urethral Resection of Bladder (TURB). TURB is a surgical procedure, usually done under spinal or general anesthesia. Surgical instruments remove the tumor through the urethra.

Bladder Removal – People having bladder cancer of stage 2 or 3 will most likely have to undergo partial or total bladder removal. Patients having partial bladder or total bladder removal will receive chemotherapy after surgery to avoid cancer coming back.

Conclusion

The treatment for bladder cancer depends on the stage at which the tumor is in, the severity of symptoms, and the patient’s current state of health at the time.

Sources:
http://www.webmd.com/cancer/bladder-cancer/bladder-cancer-topic-overview
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000486.htm
http://www.reference.com/browse/schistosomiasis?o=100074

Treatment of Bladder Cancer in Cats

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Although bladder cancer in cats is uncommon, it does happen. No one is positive about why some cats develop bladder cancer, but there have been links between flea medication and lawn insecticides to bladder cancer in cats. There is also a link between bladder cancer and cyclophosphamide, a drug cats are given to treat immune disorders and cancer. Obese cats and female cats are at the highest risk for developing bladder cancer.

While you need to consult with your veterinarian to determine the most appropriate course of treatment, here’s a list of different ways bladder cancer in cats is usually treated.

Drugs

Chemotherapy and the anti-inflammatory drug piroxicam are the standard treatment for bladder cancer in cats. Radiation can also be used as treatment, but it is usually not done except by referral specialists or in research facilities.

Surgery

Because bladder cancer in cats takes the form of tumors that invade the bladder wall, surgery is most likely not a possibility. To remove the tumor or tumors would destroy the bladder itself. Surgery is only a possibility when the tumor is small and contained within the bladder.

Bladder cancer in cats can be tricky to diagnose, especially because the initial symptoms are exactly the same as other less serious and more common urinary tract problems. If the cancer is not detected early, the cat may also have tumors in other parts of the body that need to be surgically removed.

Alternative Medicine

Sadly, cats that are diagnosed with bladder cancer usually don’t live more than another year. In some, the cancer has progressed to the point where they only live another couple of weeks after diagnosis. Treatment can prolong a cat’s life or in some cases help the cat recover completely, but you should do everything you can to keep your cat comfortable in the meantime. My vet once told me after a particularly grim diagnosis, “It’s not about quantity of life; it’s about quality.”

Aside from whatever medical treatment your vet recommends, the best way to treat bladder cancer in cats is to make them as comfortable as possible, so their last days are as pain-free and happy as possible. Bladder cancer in cats can cause incredible discomfort, which you can imagine if you’ve ever had a severe urinary tract infection.

Homeopathic remedies can help alleviate some of the misery your cat feels. Many websites advertise homeopathic supplements you can give your cat to relieve urinary tract discomfort, and some supplements are made specifically for cats with cancer to boost their immune systems while they undergo treatment.

While it can’t hurt to try homeopathic remedies in conjunction with conventional treatment, be sure to talk to your vet about any supplements you give your cat. Even herbal remedies can cause reactions with other medication.

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer in Cats

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Bladder cancer in cats is thankfully not very common, but the symptoms of bladder cancer often get mistaken for other urinary problems. As you’ll see, the symptoms for bladder cancer in cats mimic the symptoms of a basic urinary tract infection and bladder stones (also called crystals). Here are some things to watch for:

1. Symptoms of Bladder Cancer in Cats: Trouble Urinating

Does your kitty have trouble going to the bathroom? You’ll know that something’s wrong if your cat seems to get into the litter box more frequently but can’t seem to push anything out. Watch for signs of straining like prolong squatting and pushing, because a healthy cat usually doesn’t have to try very hard to go.

2. Symptoms of Bladder Cancer in Cats: Urinating Blood

The technical term for this is hematuria. When a cat is urinating a lot of blood, it will come out bright red in her urine. It’s pretty darn scary looking, and you’ll know right away that Fluffy needs to go the vet when you see it.

If a cat is only urinating a little blood, you might not be able to see it at all. A cat may urinate small amounts of blood for months without you realizing it, and that doesn’t make you a bad cat owner. When a veterinarian looks for blood in urine, she puts a drop of it on a slide and looks for red blood cells in the sample.

3. Symptoms of Bladder Cancer in Cats: Painful Urination

This can be a tough symptom to pick up on, because your cat can’t exactly leave you a note on your pillow. Well, in a sense, she can. If your cat has been going to the bathroom outside the litter box, there’s a chance that the problem is medical and not behavioral in origin. When a cat experiences pain during urination, she can learn to associate the litter box with pain and try going in other places. Only a vet can tell you for sure what’s going on down there. Straining and meowing in the litter box can also indicate painful urination.

4. Symptoms of Bladder Cancer in Cats: Malaise

Doesn’t it seem like what cats normally do could hypothetically fall under the description of “malaise?” Most cats lay around for the majority of the day anyway. The trick to figuring out if your cat is exhibiting signs of malaise is to look for changes in behavior that could indicate discomfort. A happy cat will stretch lethargically in the sun, while a cat with malaise might sit very still in the same sunny spot. Also look for decreased appetite, which can indicate discomfort, disinterest in favorite toys, and more than the usual amount of lethargy.

BIG DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. Don’t think for a minute that you or I can diagnose bladder cancer in your cat with this article. If your cat has any of these symptoms, a licensed veterinarian will need to run diagnostic tests to make an evaluation and determine appropriate treatment.

Symptoms and Health Risks of BCG Treatment

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Studies conducted on bladder cancer shows that the incidence of new cases are on the increase and close to 80,000 new cases have been reported in the US. BCG is a biologic response modifier and is used in the treatment of bladder cancer. It is deactivated tuberculosis bacteria and has no direct antitumor effect but is able to activate the immune system and indirectly affect tumors.

BCG is administered by intravesicular chemotherapy. This implies that it is given directly into the bladder by the use of a urinary catheter. The urinary catheter is inserted through the urethra and the BCG medication is injected into the catheter, which is then secured. Fastening of the catheter lets the medication to stay put in the bladder. The patient is urged to roll and also lie on their backs to facilitate the medication to reach all areas in the bladder. After about 2 hours, the catheter is unfastened and the medication is drained. BCG is generally administered once in a week for six weeks and then every month for six to twelve months.

As with several other medicines, BCG also has possible side effects. It may not be experienced by everybody and several of the side effects of BCG treatment can be checked or kept within limits. The more familiar side effects of BCG are difficult urination, exhaustion, shivering associated with flu like symptoms and blood in urine (hematuria). Another serious side effect can be systemic reaction to BCG, the symptoms of which are acute fever of 24 to 48 hours, giddiness, confusion and breathlessness. These symptoms can initiate other troubles such as pneumonia, respiratory problems and infections.

Prior to commencement of the BCG treatment, you should inform your doctor about the medicines you are taking. If you are with a child, or about to get pregnant, avoid treatment for the time being as the medication may have side affect on the fetus. BCG can be transmitted sexually and hence, men should not engage in sex for 48 hours after the treatment and also use condoms during the course of treatment. In order to reduce the side effects of BCG treatment, you need to control your fluid ingestion before commencing the treatment and completely avoid alcohol and caffeine intake during days of therapy to prevent bladder discomfort. You can also sort out the side effects by taking adequate rest and eating healthy food.