|Kidney and bladder cancer account for approximately 8% of all cancers in adults. They occur 2 to 3 times more often in males than in females and generally in people over 50.|
Blood in the urine is the commonest sign of both cancers although it might be a microscopic amount and only be detectable by the examining doctor.
In the case of both cancers there may be symptoms due to spread to the lungs producing respiratory symptoms, or to the lower long bones producing sudden unexplained fractures. Spread to the liver and lymphatic glands can also occur. Bladder cancer can also produce frequency of urination with an associated burning pain due to infection.
The cause of both cancers is linked to cigarette smoking, excessive use of phenacetin-containing pain killer tablets and exposure to industrial chemicals. There is very little if any evidence at present associating the use of saccharine and other sweeteners with cancer of the bladder.
Investigations include laboratory examination of the urine and blood. If kidney cancer is suspected x-rays, ultrasound, isotope scanning, CT scanning and magnetic resonant imaging can all be used to confirm diagnosis and any spread to other areas. With the bladder these techniques can also be used. However, examination of the bladder using a mechanical instrument, the cystoscope, will detect nearly all tumours of the bladder and also some of those cancers associated with the external collecting systems of the kidneys.
Treatment of cancer of the kidneys usually necessitates removal of the kidney. Radiation and chemotherapy are used in the case of spread to other organs. Early diagnosis and surgical treatment of cancer of the kidneys increases survival rates over a period of five years to approximately 70%. As in all cancer the earlier it is diagnosed the better the prognosis.
Treatment for bladder cancer includes removal of the tumour through the urethra or in the case of recurrent small tumours, a technique called fulguration is used. This involves a drying up of the tissue by the use of a high frequency electrical current applied with a needle electrode. Lasers are now being used to treat low grade early tumours of the bladder. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy both play a part in the treatment of bladder cancer. Surgery involving removal of part or all of the bladder is reserved for extreme cases of cancer and may also involve removal of neighbouring organs and glandular tissue. Regular follow up examinations should be carried out by your doctor.
In the case of low grade cancer of the bladder wall you should see your doctor every three months but eventually yearly check ups will be all that is necessary.
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