Bladder Cancer

bladder-cancerBladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is where a tumour grows in the lining of the bladder, and sometimes in the surrounding muscles.

This cancer is four times more common in men than in women, and is mostly found in older people, with 68 years being the average age at which bladder cancer is diagnosed, (although the disease may already have been growing for a long time). Some 10,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer every year.

Operating from within Nuffield Health Taunton Hospital, Somerset Urology we have decades of experience in diagnosing and assisting those with bladder cancer. Working alongside your GP we help through consultation as well as the appropriate surgery if required.

Causes of Bladder Cancer
Most cases of bladder cancer appear to be caused by long-term exposure of the bladder to harmful substances, most typically cigarette smoke; around half of all cases of bladder cancer are thought to be caused by smoking.


Otherwise, certain chemicals used in manufacturing processes (many of which have since been banned) are also known to cause bladder cancer.


Bladder cancer is classified by how far it has spread.


Superficial or non-muscle invasive bladder cancer: this is when the cancerous cells are all within the lining of the bladder. This type accounts for 7 out of 10 cases of bladder cancer and chances of survival are good.


Muscle invasive bladder cancer; this is where the cancerous cells have spread beyond the lining into the surrounding muscles of the bladder. The cancer has a higher chance of spreading to other parts of the body, and can be terminal.


When the cancer has spread outside the bladder to other parts of the body, this is known as advanced bladder cancer.

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
The most common cause of cystitis is a urinary tract infection. These are usually more common in women because their urethras, which carry urine from the bladder, open much closer to the anus (bottom) and are shorter than men’s, making it easier for bacteria to get into the bladder.


Cystitis can also be a symptom of inflammation of the urethra itself, a yeast infection called vaginal thrush (or Candida), a kidney infection, sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea or Chlamydia, urethral syndrome in women or, in men, inflammation of the prostate gland.


Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
Most commonly, the first symptom of bladder cancer is blood in your urine, which is usually painless, can happen suddenly and may not be visible every time you urinate. Your urine may look pink, red or brown, perhaps with streaks or clots of blood in it.


There may also be pain in the lower part of the tummy or back or other urinary symptoms, such as a burning feeling when passing urine or the urge to ‘go’ more often.


Although these symptoms aren’t necessarily caused by cancer, more usually by infection or stones in the bladder or kidneys, it is always worth seeking medical advice. At Somerset Urology we are always happy to test for bladder cancer, because the earlier it’s diagnosed, the more likely it is to be cured.

Diagnosis of Bladder Cancer
First you will be asked about your symptoms, family history, whether you are or have been a smoker or the likelihood that you’ve been exposed to certain chemicals, and the doctor might want to carry out a physical examination of your rectum and vagina. A urine sample will probably be needed for testing in a laboratory for traces of blood, bacteria or abnormal cells.


Please see our Diagnosis of Bladder Cancer for more information.

Treatment of Bladder Cancer
Superficial or non-muscle invasive bladder cancer: usually the cancerous cells can be cut out using a surgical technique called transurethral resection of a bladder tumour (TURBT), which leaves the rest of the bladder intact.


A dose of chemotherapy medication or a medication known as Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) may be introduced straight in the bladder to lessen the risk of the cancer returning.


Muscle-invasive bladder cancer: the entire bladder will be removed in what’s known as a radical cystectomy, and at the same time another way of collecting urine will be put in place.


This could be taking a section of bowel and fashioning it into a new bladder, or making an opening in the tummy so that urine can drain into an external bag.


However, in certain circumstances, a course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be recommended instead. Chemotherapy may be combined with radiotherapy.


Your doctor will discuss all the options with you and explain what the most appropriate and effective treatment is for your situation.


Treatment after surgery
During and after your treatment, the lining of your bladder will have to be checked regularly. Tumours may return but can usually be removed and treated successfully with further surgery, chemotherapy or BCG.

Read More About Bladder Problems