Bladder cancer begins when cells in the urinary bladder start to grow uncontrollably. As more cancer cells develop, they form a tumor. Most bladder cancers start in the innermost lining of the bladder, the urothelium. As cancer grows into or through the other layers in the bladder wall, it becomes more advanced and can be harder to treat.
The bladder’s main function is to store urine before it leaves the body. Urine is made by the kidneys and then carried to the bladder. When you urinate, the bladder muscles contract and urine is forced out of the bladder through a tube called the urethra.
Bladder cancers are often described based on how far they have invaded into the wall of the bladder:
• Non-invasive cancers are still in the inner layer of cells (urothelium) but have not grown into the deeper layers.
• Invasive cancers have grown into deeper layers of the bladder wall. These cancers are more likely to spread and are harder to treat.
A bladder cancer also can be described as superficial or non-muscle invasive. These terms include both non-invasive tumors as well as any invasive tumors that have not grown into the main muscle layer of the bladder.
Causes & Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
It's not always clear what causes bladder cancer. Bladder cancer has been linked to smoking, parasitic infections, radiation, and chemical exposure.
There are three types of bladder cancer:
Transitional cell carcinoma
Occurs in the cells that line the inside of your bladder. Transitional cells expand when your bladder is full and contract when your bladder is empty. These same cells line the inside of your ureters and your urethra, and tumors can form in those places as well. Transitional cell carcinoma is the most common type of bladder cancer in the United States.
Squamous cell carcinoma
Is in response to infection and irritation. Over time they can become cancerous. Squamous cell bladder cancer is rare in the United States. It's more common in parts of the world where a certain parasitic infection (schistosomiasis) is a prevalent cause of bladder infections.
Begins in cells that make up mucus-secreting glands in the bladder. Adenocarcinoma of the bladder is rare in the U.S.
Bladder cancer symptoms may include:
• Blood or blood clots in the urine
• Pain or burning during urination
• Frequent urination
• Feeling the need to urinate many times throughout the night
• Feeling the need to urinate, but not being able to pass urine
• Lower back pain on one side of the body
Who Gets Bladder Cancer
Whites are about twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as African-Americans and Hispanics. Asian Americans and American Indians have slightly lower rates of bladder cancer. … About 9 out of 10 people with bladder cancer are older than 55. … Bladder cancer is much more common in men than in women.
Taking the chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) for a long time can irritate the bladder and increase the risk of bladder cancer. People who are treated with radiation to the pelvis are more likely to develop bladder cancer.
Prognosis if You Have Bladder Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute’s SEER database:
• The 5-year relative survival rate for people with Stage 0 bladder cancer is about 98 percent.
• The 5-year relative survival rate for people with Stage I bladder cancer is about 88 percent.
• For Stage II bladder cancer, the 5-year relative survival rate is about 63 percent.
• The 5-year relative survival rate for Stage III bladder cancer is about 46 percent.
• Stage IV bladder cancer has a relative 5-year survival rate of about 15 percent. Still, there are often treatment options available for people with this stage of cancer.
Immune System Health
A healthy immune system remains your body's best defense. Not only is a weak immune system a major reason patients have cancer — and cancer itself can further weaken the immune system.
Beta glucans help regulate the immune system, making it more efficient. In addition, beta glucans stimulate white blood cells (lymphocytes) that bind to tumors or viruses and release chemicals to destroy it.
Beta Glucan has been approved in Japan, Australia, South Korea, and Taiwan as an immunoadjuvant therapy for cancer. In fact, helping with cancer is just the beginning with Beta Glucan. There have thousands of studies showing the product can protect against infections, lower your cholesterol, lower blood sugar, reduce stress, increase your antibody production, heal wounds, help radiation burns, overcome mercury-induced immunosuppression (like Thimerosal, used as a preservative in vaccines), help with diabetes, and even naturally prevent metastasis (or the spreading of your cancer).
Harvard Medical School suggests following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward keeping your immune system strong and healthy:
• Don't smoke.
• Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fat.
• Exercise regularly.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Control your blood pressure.
• If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
• Get adequate sleep.
• Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
• Get regular medical screening tests for people in your age group and risk category.
More Information: Building the Immune System
Your diet plays a role in a healthy immune system. The top vitamins your immune system needs to perform include:
• Vitamin C — helps to repair and regenerate tissues and aids in the absorption of iron
• Vitamin E — a powerful antioxidant that helps your body fight off infection
• Vitamin B6 — supports adrenal function and is necessary for key metabolic processes
• Vitamin A — aids immune function and helps provide a barrier against infections
• Vitamin D — modulates cell growth, promotes neuromuscular and immune function, and reduces inflammation
• Folate — key in development of red blood cells (a lack of folate can make the body susceptible to cancer)
• Iron — helps your body carry oxygen to cells
• Selenium — slows the body's overactive responses to certain aggressive forms of cancer
• Zinc — slows the immune response and control inflammation in your body
Sources: American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research UK