Bladder Lesions

Causes And Treatments For Bladder Lesions

Abnormal areas in the bladder which are typically tumors or growth are referred to as bladder lesions.  Most of these tend to be cancerous and it is actually quite rare that they are not.  The majority of these are malignant and do not spread past the bladder lining however, one-fifth are invasive and may extend to other areas of the body if left untreated.

Causes

The main cause of bladder lesions is smoking cigarettes and of course, quitting the habit reduces the risk for this and many other diseases.  There is also believed to be a link to not drinking enough water since the bladder comes into direct contact with carcinogens before they are excreted out through the urine.

About 30 percent of these types of tumors are due to occupational exposure to carcinogens such as 2-naphthylamine, which you find in cigarette smoke, as well as benzidine.  Occupations most at risk are bartenders in areas without implemented smoking bans, rubber workers, bus drivers, leather workers, motor mechanics, machine setters and blacksmiths.  Hairdressers are also at high risk because of exposure to hair dyes and other perming and straightening chemicals.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common symptom of bladder lesions is blood in your urine that may or may not be visible to the naked eye.  Other common symptoms include feeling like you need to urinate but are not successful, frequent urination or experiencing pain while you are urinating.

Unfortunately, these are often misdiagnosed because they are similar symptoms that are associated with a few non-cancerous conditions such as cystitis and prostate infections.

Diagnosis

Bladder lesions are often found on accident during a cystoscopy, otherwise known as a bladder washing as well as through bladder scans and urine tests.  Most patients who have a medical history that puts them at high-risk for cancer or those who have shown signs and symptoms of having cancer in the bladder are referred to either a physician who has been well trained in cystoscopy or a urologist.

A cystoscopy is a procedure that involves inserting a flexible tube with an attached camera as well as other instruments into the bladder by way of the urethra.  Any suspicious bladder lesions are traditionally biopsied to be sent for pathological analysis.  Sometimes surgical removal can even be performed by the cystoscopy, depending on if the cancer has spread or not.

 

Treatments

Treatment options are completely dependent on how far the cancer has spread and how deep it is in the wall of the bladder.  Tumors that are not into the layer of muscle can be shaved away by using a device that is attached to a cystoscope.  To prevent the recurrence of these types of superficial tumors, immunotherapy is usually performed.  This is effective in nearly two-thirds of cases.

Thermo-chemotherapy is another option that heats the wall of the bladder using radio-frequency energy.  The chemotherapy and heat combined kill the tumor by enhancing the synergistic effect.

TURBT is another common treatment option that is quite popular for bladder lesions.  During this procedure, a cystoscope is inserted into the urethra very carefully.  Saline solution is passed through this very thin rod, allowing the surgeon to find the lesion.  When it is found, a special wire loop is then passed through the cystoscope and an electric current is sent to the loop to burn or cut the lesion off.  This procedure typically takes around 30 minutes if only one lesion is present or longer if there are multiple ones for the surgeon to tend to.  One to two nights are usually spent in the hospital after the procedure for observation and further tests.