Bladder cancer affects the cells in the bladder. The bladder is an expandable saclike organ located in the lower abdomen. Its function is to collect urine from the kidneys and remove it from the body. Bladder cancer affects both men and women, but it is more common among men. Keep reading to learn more about the disease.
The type of bladder cancer is determined by the area of the bladder where cancer begins. Accordingly, there are three types of bladder cancer.
- Transitional cell or urothelial carcinoma: This is the most common type of bladder cancer. It begins in the cells that line the inside of the bladder.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: This type of bladder cancer is much less common than transitional cell carcinoma. It occurs due to chronic infection or irritation in the bladder, leading to the formation of thin, flat squamous cells.
- Adenocarcinoma: This type is also quite rare. It begins in glandular cells that form mucus-secreting glands in the bladder.
Here are the common symptoms of bladder cancer.
- Blood in the urine
- Having to urinate more often than usual
- Pain during urination
- Pain in the abdomen area
- Pain in the lower back
- Urinary incontinence
As the disease progresses, fatigue, weight loss, and bone tenderness may also occur.
Causes and risk factors
The exact cause of bladder cancer is not known yet. However, researchers have identified several factors that can increase an individual’s likelihood of developing the disease.
- Smoking: Smoking cigarettes causes harmful chemicals to accumulate in the urine, damaging the lining of the bladder.
- Aging: Bladder cancer is more common in people over the age of 55.
- Exposure to certain chemicals: Exposure to chemicals like arsenic used in producing dyes, rubber, leather, textiles, and paint increases the risk of developing bladder cancer.
Other risk factors include:
- Family history of bladder cancer
- Chronic bladder inflammation
- Low fluid consumption
Treatment is primarily based on the type of bladder cancer and its progression. The most common treatment options include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and surgery.
The goal of surgery is to remove cancer cells from the body. Typically, this is achieved by removing a part of the bladder or the whole bladder. If the surgery involves removing the entire bladder, doctors will create a new way for the urine to exit the body. Some common surgical procedures include transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT), cystectomy, and neobladder reconstruction.
Following are the natural ways to manage symptoms of bladder cancer.
- Staying hydrated
Several studies indicate that drinking plenty of water is important to protect the bladder and urinary tract. Experts recommend drinking about two liters of water each day to alleviate the symptoms. Also, it’s important to reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption as it can cause bladder irritation.
- Trying relaxation techniques
When experiencing symptoms or undergoing treatment, it’s common to feel anxious, irritated, or depressed. So, practicing stress-relieving techniques like yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises can be helpful.
Foods that can help fight bladder cancer
Eating certain foods can reduce bladder cancer symptoms.
- Vegetables: Studies show that cruciferous vegetables contain a compound that can prevent the growth of bladder cancer. This includes veggies like cabbage, cauliflower, kale, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts. It’s also beneficial to consume colorful, leafy vegetables, as they are packed with antioxidants.
- Fruits: Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, grapefruits, and limes, can help fight bladder cancer. These fruits contain antioxidants that may help protect the bladder.
- Healthy fats: Fats improve the absorption of vitamins and repair cells across the body. Fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and olives are excellent sources of healthy fats.