The bladder is located in the pelvic cavity. Its function is to store and discharge urine. There are approximately 54,000 new cases of bladder cancer diagnosed each year, with bladder cancer accounting for approximately 90% of cancers of the urinary collecting system (renal pelvis, ureters, bladder, urethra). It is the fourth most common cancer in men, and eighth most common cancer in women.
Causes of Bladder Cancer
What causes bladder cancer? The most important factor contributing to bladder cancer is cigarette smoking. The majority of bladder cancers are diagnosed as a result of evaluation of hematuria (blood in the urine). Some patients also have symptoms mimicking a urinary tract infection such as frequent urination and urgent urination. Patients with hematuria or unexplained urinary symptoms should be evaluated for the presence of bladder cancer.
Capital Region Urology physicians have several options for evaluating these symptoms including a urinary cytology cancer cell check, kidney x-ray examination, and cystoscopy. Cystoscopy is the examination of the bladder using a small, flexible, fiberoptic endoscope.
Treatments for Bladder Cancer
The vast majority of bladder cancers are transitional cell carcinomas of differing grade and stage. Other types of cancers that occur in the bladder are squamous cell, adenocarcinoma and sarcoma (i.e., leiomyosarcoma). At the time of initial diagnosis, 75% of bladder cancer cases are superficial in nature and localized to the bladder. The remaining are more extensive. Patients usually undergo a procedure called "transurethral resection of bladder tumor." This allows removal of a bladder cancer specimen using specialized operative endoscopes in the operating room. Pathologic information gained from this initial procedure in addition to radiographic studies will allow the treating Capital Region Urology physician to advise the patient about the most appropriate treatment options and any necessary additional therapy.
Capital Region Urology surgeons use small, flexible, fiberoptic endoscopes (in a procedure called a cystoscopy), to quickly and accurately diagnose the cause of any symptoms. Endoscopic surgeries can most often be used to treat bladder cancer in a minimally invasive manner. In more advanced stages, a multidisciplinary team will provide the necessary treatment options. This may include cystectomy (total or partial bladder removal), new bladder construction, or a chemotherapy/radiation protocol. Capital Region Urology also utilizes the revolutionary da Vinci robotic surgical system to treat bladder cancers.