Bladder cancer is one of the most insidious types of cancer. A malignant tumor can grow in the bladder unnoticed for years. A urologist explains how to identify the disease early on.
People in this country get fose bladder cancer more than 29,000 times a year. It is insidious that the tumor hardly causes any clear symptoms in the early stages. Pain is also rare.
What is bladder cancer? Bladder cancer, a so-called bladder carcinoma, is a malignant tumor in the urinary bladder.
Symptoms: Beware of blood in the urine
The symptoms by which bladder cancer can still be recognized is explained by Professor Dr. Christian Wülfing, head of urology at the Asklepios Clinic Altona. “The most common thing is blood in the urine,” said the press spokesman for the German Society for Urology.
Those affected should therefore always consult a doctor if their urine turns red or brown. Painful urination can also be a sign of bladder cancer. In the advanced stages of the cancer there is usually pain in the abdomen and kidney area.
According to the urologist, an early detection test such as the urine test “NMP22”, which is supposed to detect a substance that is increasingly formed by tumors in a urine sample, has so far not been very reliable.
causes: Smoking is the number one risk factor
It is still unclear why tumors develop in the urinary bladder and urinary tract. Scientific studies have been able to prove some factors that increase the risk of developing bladder cancer, writes the German Cancer Aid in its guide.
The biggest risk factor for bladder cancer is “clearly” smoking, according to Professor Dr. Wülfing. Passive smoking also increases the risk, because the carcinogenic substances in cigarette smoke are filtered out of the blood by the kidneys and enter the bladder with the urine, where they damage the mucous membrane. Experts estimate that around 30 to 70 percent of all bladder cancers are due to smoking.
Chemical substances that cause bladder cancer
During certain professional activities, employees are exposed to certain chemical substances such as aromatic amines and aniline dyes, which can increase the risk of bladder cancer. According to the German Cancer Aid, the following are at risk:
- Chemical workers
- car Mechanic
- Employed in rubber processing
- Employees in the steel and leather industry
- Dental technician
Bladder cancer is a recognized occupational disease in these industries. There are now improved safety precautions for handling such substances in the workplace. But many people also come into contact with carcinogenic substances in their private everyday lives. Chemical hair dyes are suspected of increasing the risk of bladder cancer.
Other risk factors for bladder cancer are:
- chronic bladder infections
- Bladder stones and indwelling catheters
- Taking pain medication with the active ingredient phenacetine
- Infectious diseases such as schistosomiasis that have persisted for many years
Men are more likely to develop bladder cancer
According to the German Cancer Aid, men get sick more than twice as often Bladder cancer like women. That is because men smoke more. But the number of new cases among women is increasing, “probably because the proportion of female smokers has also increased over the past 30 to 40 years,” explains the urologist.
treatment depends on the tumor stage
The doctor can determine whether a suspicion of bladder cancer is justified by analyzing the urine, palpation and ultrasound examinations, cystoscopy and an X-ray contrast image of the kidneys and urinary tract. The majority of bladder tumors are recognized at a stage in which they are still growing on the surface and can be surgically removed.
“This is usually followed by an endoscopic operation in which tissue from the tumor is ‘peeled off’ via a cystoscopy,” says Professor Dr. Wülfing. This method is also called transurethral bladder tumor resection – TURB for short.
Even with one chemotherapy or radiation therapy of the urinary bladder Krebs treated in the early stages. If it is already advanced, however, the bladder must be removed. Then the patients get a bladder replacement and a so-called urostoma is placed. The urostoma is an artificial urine discharge through the abdominal wall, through which the urine is then excreted.
If the bladder cancer is detected late, it can affect the muscle and lymph tissue. If this is the case, even a bladder removal will no longer help and the cancer will be fatal. In Germany around 4,000 people die each year from a tumor in the urinary bladder.
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