The most common symptom is painless blood in the urine. Bladder cancer is caused by genetic abnormalities and external risk factors. The most common cause is smoking. Other causes include alcohol, inflammation, infection, chemotherapy, radiation, and exposure to chemicals in the work place.
Diagnosis is made by taking your history, physical examination, blood tests, urine tests and looking into the bladder with a small telescope. Investigations also include scanning the kidneys with an ultrasound scan and/or CT scan.
Bladder cancer accounts for 7% of all cancers diagnosed. The male: female ratio is 3:1. It is reasonably rare, affecting approximately 25/100,000 people.
Treatment is determined by the depth and aggression of the bladder cancer. Superficial tumours can be removed by cutting them off the lining of the bladder, under general anaesthetic.
Deeper cancers require more aggressive treatment, even the removal of the entire bladder. Radiation and chemo-therapy are sometimes required also, for aggressive bladder cancer.
Dr Davies can perform the initial bladder inspection in the office, under local anaesthetic. This is called a flexible cystoscopy. You will be placed into a gown and antiseptic used to clean the entrance to the water pipe. Local anaesthetic jelly is then gently squeezed into the water pipe, to make the lining of it go numb.
A small, bendy telescope is then passed into the bladder. This is generally very well tolerated. Dr Davies will explain to you immediately what he can see, using a video screen. You are welcome to look at the screen yourself, if you wish. Future treatment will be based on the findings of the bladder inspection and your kidney scan.
If you or your doctor ever detect blood in the urine in the absence of a urinary infection, you should always have it investigated further.