Understanding bladder cancer: What we know and what we don’t

Authored by - Dr. Vishnu Prasad, Consultant – Uro-Oncology and Robotic Surgery, Manipal Hospital, Yeshwanthpur

Team Udayavani, May 21, 2024, 12:05 PM IST

Bladder cancer affects millions worldwide, but there’s still much we’re learning about this disease. In this article, we’ll explore the current understanding of bladder cancer, what we’ve discovered, and the questions that remain unanswered.

What We Know

• Risk Factors: Smoking, exposure to certain chemicals, advancing age, and a family history of bladder cancer are well-established risk factors.
• Symptoms: Blood in the urine (hematuria), frequent urination, and pain during urination are common symptoms that may indicate bladder cancer.
• Diagnostic Techniques: Tests like urine analysis, cystoscopy, and imaging studies help diagnose bladder cancer.
• Treatment Options: Surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy are standard treatment modalities, often used in combination depending on the stage and type of bladder cancer.

What We Don’t Know

• Exact Causes: While smoking and chemical exposure are known risk factors, the precise mechanisms that lead to bladder cancer development are still being investigated.
• Prevention Strategies: While lifestyle modifications like quitting smoking can reduce the risk, there’s ongoing research to identify other preventive measures.
• Subtypes and Biomarkers: Bladder cancer is a heterogeneous disease with different subtypes, and identifying biomarkers for each subtype could improve diagnosis and treatment.
• Recurrence and Progression: Understanding why some bladder cancers recur or progress despite treatment remains a challenge, highlighting the need for personalized approaches to care.

Current Research Efforts

Scientists are studying the role of genetics, immune system interactions, and environmental factors in bladder cancer development.
Clinical trials are exploring new treatment approaches, including targeted therapies and immunotherapies, to improve outcomes for patients with advanced or recurrent bladder cancer.
Advances in imaging techniques and molecular profiling are helping to better characterize bladder tumors and guide treatment decisions.

The Importance of Awareness and Advocacy

Raising awareness about bladder cancer symptoms, risk factors, and the importance of early detection is crucial for improving outcomes.
Advocacy efforts support funding for research, patient support programs, and initiatives aimed at reducing the burden of bladder cancer on individuals and communities.

Bladder cancer research has made significant strides, but there’s still much to learn. By supporting ongoing research efforts, raising awareness, and advocating for improved care and resources, we can continue to make progress in the fight against bladder cancer.

Authored by – Dr. Vishnu Prasad, Consultant – Uro-Oncology and Robotic Surgery, Manipal Hospital, Yeshwanthpur

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