The following information was taken from an audio interview (above) with Mark Bandyk, M.D., a urologist with UF Health Jacksonville.
What are the risk factors for bladder cancer?
First and foremost, blood in the urine, as we call hematuria, which can be found microscopically or grossly, meaning that you see it when you’re urinating. Also, if you read the literature, smoking is a risk factor, four to five times of developing this bladder cancer, urothelial cancer, and trying to stop that risk, reducing that risk, is very important. I’m after my patients, even the ones that I’ve removed their bladders on, they’re still smoking. It’s so addicting, but I try to influence them to quit smoking and lead a healthier lifestyle.
Also, bladder cancer warning symptoms could be really a change in voiding symptoms, burning pain, discomfort. Some women, for example, have a complaint of having frequent urinary tract infections. It could be an infection, but it also could be a urothelial cancer of bladder cancer.
What happens if a bladder tumor is found during an evaluation?
If I identify a bladder tumor on your evaluation for blood in the urine, then I take it to the operating room and under anesthesia, remove that polyp completely from the bladder. And, it gives us vital information. First, what type of cancer is it? How aggressive is this cancer? What grade is this cancer? But most importantly, does this cancer involve the muscle of the bladder?
The differentiation between non-muscle invasive bladder cancer and muscle-invasive bladder cancer is crucial because there’s really two different forms of management. If you have non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, we use chemotherapy, but really the standard of care is immune therapy with BCG, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. However, if you have muscle-invasive bladder cancer, we’re not able to preserve your bladder and the standard of care is to have one’s bladder removed.
When should you be evaluated for bladder cancer?
If you have any of the warning signs of bladder cancer – blood in the urine is a warning sign, irritative voiding symptoms, urinary tract infections – please get them evaluated as soon as possible. Patient delay can really influence this disease. Visit us at UF Health Jacksonville, Department of Urology. We have a team in place that will help you with identification and management of your disease.
For more information or to get connected with our urology team, visit UFHealthJax.org/urology or call 904-383-1016 to make an appointment.