Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bladder Cancer Research Is Aimed At Finding More Effective Therapies

By Elena McDowell

The human bladder is a hollow organ designed to store urine prior to its elimination. Found in the lower abdominal cavity, individuals usually feel pressure in this area when it is becoming full. Bladder cancer research indicates that the latter is the sixth most common cancer type to affect people living in the Western world. Fortunately, when tumors in this area are discovered early, patients' lives can often be saved.

Symptoms include blood in one's urine, frequency, pain upon urination and low back pain. However, these symptoms are not always a sign of a malignancy, as infections, cysts, and other conditions may also result in these occurrences. For this reason, prompt medical evaluation is necessary when such symptoms are present.

Risk factors for developing this disease include exposure to certain chemicals and cigarette smoking. The sulfur contained in many tobacco products can result in this type of cancer. This is because this substance irritates the lining of the bladder, making it more susceptible to the proliferation of free radicals.

For reasons that are not yet know, males are at a higher risk for this disease than females. Additionally, Caucasians are more susceptible to bladder malignancies than Africans or Asians. Again, it has not yet been determined why this is the case. Furthermore, the risk of developing any kind of malignancy increases as individuals grow older. This may be due to the weakening of the immune system that naturally occurs with age, or hereditary factors that do not surface until late in life.

Therapy for this kind of cancer includes radiation, chemotherapy, and surgical procedures. Biological therapies are also used in certain cases. The latter are techniques developed to enhance a person's own immune system, which can then effectively fight any cancerous growths present in his or her body. Additional studies are required to determine if this technique is effective, but preliminary studies have caused many researchers to be optimistic about this type of treatment.

The kind of therapy recommended will depend on the cancer's stage. If it is caught in what is commonly called stage I, meaning it has not invaded other organs yet, it is usually cured with surgery. Stage II tumors are those that have metastasized to nearby tissue. In such cases, the patient usually receives radiation, or a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, depending on the area to which the disease has spread. Tumors classified as stage III or stage IV are typically treated with chemotherapy, or combination of all the aforementioned therapies.

For tumors that are superficial, and therefore considered low risk stage I malignancies, there is only a fifteen percent chance of recurrence. Interestingly, however, if they do recur, the disease is usually no more aggressive than it was initially. This means that if it was caught early and cured when it first occurred, this will probably be the outcome should it return in the future.

Additional bladder cancer research is currently being conducted to find more effective ways to both treat and prevent this disease. Although not a common condition, it can be deadly. Therefore, anyone experiencing the aforementioned symptoms should seek medical attention without delay.

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