Swollen legs could signal ‘most severe’ stage of bladder cancer

Bladder cancer is the 11th most common cancer in the UK, but the ninth most common cause of cancer death. It occurs when abnormal cells in the bladder lining start to grow and divide in an uncontrolled way. Like many cancers, there are several warning signs of the disease to be wary of.

Consultant urological surgeon at The Christie Private Care, Jeremy Oates, explained more about bladder cancer.

He said: “Most bladder cancer (more than 70 percent of cases) are superficial, meaning they sit on the bladder lining and don’t invade the bladder wall, and can be divided into low grade and high-grade tumours.

“Superficial, low-grade tumours rarely are serious, though can cause problematic symptoms and have a high chance of recurrence.

“High grade tumours have a much higher risk of progressing to muscle invasive disease, which is much more significant disease and requires more invasive treatments.”

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Some of the initial symptoms to look out for are:

  • Blood in your urine
  • Pain – usually a burning sensation when you pass urine
  • Pain in the lower back or tummy
  • Urinating frequently.

“These symptoms can often be related to a number of less serious non-cancerous conditions,” he clarified.

“However, if you experience any of these symptoms it is important to see your GP so that a referral and diagnosis can be made as quickly as possible.“

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Treatment options for bladder cancer

Transurethral removal of bladder tumour (TURBT) – This is usually the first treatment option for early bladder cancer. A surgeon will remove the tumour in the bladder using a camera passed through the urethra. This is normally done under general anaesthetic, though often can be done as a day case procedure.

Cystectomy (removal of the bladder) – This is the process of the removal of all of the bladder, and is usually conducted in high risk and invasive cases. Once your bladder is removed, it will be necessary to have another way to collect and pass urine, either via a stoma on the tummy wall called a urostomy or alternatively a special bag created from a piece of bowel called a neobladder.

Radiotherapy – Recent advances in radiotherapy have significantly improved the outcomes of treatment for muscle invasive disease, meaning success rates of treatment are often equivalent to surgery whilst allowing the patient to preserve their bladder.

Chemotherapy – Often used before cystectomy and radiotherapy to improve the cure rates of treatment.

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