THERE IS BLOOD IN MY URINE!
Is It Bladder Cancer?
Did you know?
Bladder Cancer is serious. Bladder cancer is not very common, but over 70, 000 men and women are diagnosed with the disease every year and about 15,000 die from the disease. Everyone urinate, yet not many knows about the bladder, where it is located, or what it does (see pic).
The kidneys are two bean shaped organs that acts as a filter and produce urine as a waste product. This urine then travels down the ureter to the bladder. The bladder is a balloon shaped organ in the pelvis (just below the belly button/navel) that stores urine until it is time to excrete from the body via the urethra in a process known as urination.
What cause cancer of the bladder?
There are many things (called risk factors) that may lead to bladder cancer. A few include
- Tobacco smoking is the leading risk factor
- If others in your family had bladder cancer, then you are also at risk
- Exposure to chemicals used in making metal, paint, dye and petroleum products
- Chronic urinary tract infections (having infection of the bladder a lot of times) including some infections caused by a parasite (schistosoma haematobium)
- Drinking anything contaminated with arsenic
What are Bladder Cancer Symptoms?
- Blood in the urine is the most common symptom
- Pain while urinating
- Back or pelvic pain
- Urinating often
Blood in the urine is scary. “Gross Hematuria” is the term used for visible bloody urine. If the blood is only discovered under a microscope and cannot be seen with the naked eyes, it is called “Microscopic Hematuria.” Both gross and microscopic hematuria may represent serious underlying disease.
Gross Hematuria can be caused by trauma, menstruation, vigorous exercise, sexual activity/STD’s, kidney stones, kidney disease, cancer of kidney/ureter/bladder, prostate cancer, viral illness or infection, such as urinary tract infection (UTI), to name a few. A urine analysis should be done and can easily diagnose if an infection is present. You should consult with a specialist (Urologist) if it is not a simple UTI – even if the bleeding stop on its own. The evaluation may be minimal if you are considered a “Low-risk” patient. Low-risk patients are:
- Age less than 40years
- No smoking history
- No history of chemical exposure
- No irritative voiding symptoms
- No history of gross hematuria
- No previous Urologic history (urinary problems)
What other evaluations will be done?
The treatment recommendation for bladder cancer will be based on the stage of the cancer. This means, several test will be recommended to determine if the cancer is contained within the bladder, or if it has grow through the bladder walls and/or to other areas outside the bladder. In addition to physical exam, your doctor may order urine analysis (UA) to evaluate components of the urine, a cystoscopy to look inside the bladder (a biopsy is usually take if anything abnormal is seen), MRI, CT scan, to name a few tests. Once the extent of the disease is determine, then treatment recommendations will be discussed with you.
What Are Treatment Options for Bladder Cancer?
There are various treatments for bladder cancer, each depending on the stage, which typically includes the common 3 standard treatments:
- Chemotherapy or Immunotherapy
- Radiation therapy
It is very important to discuss the stage of the cancer and treatment options available. Be sure to also discuss the expected side effects from treatment. Other options that include new treatment modalities may also be available via clinical trials. Remember, never go to these appointments alone.
If the basics of radiation therapy, chemotherapy and other terminology used in cancer discussion is unfamiliar to you, consider the Cancer 101 course to learn more. You may register for the FREE course HERE and test your cancer knowledge HERE
Until next time remember,
Life is beautiful and God is awesome. And know, you are pure awesomeness!
Ipsa Scientia Potestas est ——— Knowledge itself is power!
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Queen, Your Family Friendly Cancer Doc!