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Janice Fuller

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Key Information On Bladder And Kidney Cancer

The number of cancer cases has been rising steadily in recent years. While this may be a result of lifestyle changes seen all over the world, the availability of advanced diagnostic techniques has also contributed. bladder and kidney cancer are among the commonest malignancies seen in hospitals. Men are three times more likely to suffer from bladder cancer when compared to women. The median age of those affected is about 68 years.

Several predisposing factors have been identified. Cigarette smoking has featured prominently with some studies concluding that smokers are four times likely to contract bladder malignancies as compared to non-smokers. Some of the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes include naphthalene, nitrosamine and aminobiphenyl. Other significant factors include exposure to radiation, aromatic amines and the intake of some sweeteners such as saccharin and cyclamate.

The cause of renal tumors remains obscure. However, genetic mutations have been found in persons on treatment for the disease. Risk factors to developing this cancer include, among others, hypertension, smoking, obesity and some types if inherited syndromes that affect the kidney.

Typically, patients will not have any symptoms in early stages. The passage of bloody urine is the first symptom reported by many of the patients. In the case of renal tumors there may be additional complaints that include generalized fatigue, weight loss and back pain.

There are a number of tests that are useful in diagnosing these tumors. Renal function tests will most likely reveal some form of renal failure. The degree of derangement is proportional to the extent of illness. Imaging tests such as CT scan and the MRI help to locate the exact part of the organ that is affected and whether or not the adjacent tissues have been affected as well. The gold standard in diagnosis is histology of biopsy specimens.

Two broad categories of tumors exist; non-invasive and invasive disease. The former is less advanced and responds well to treatment. The latter type is more advanced disease that usually has poor outcomes. Subtypes of these tumors include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and primary lymphomas. Renal cell carcinoma is the commonest renal type of tumor.

Staging the disease has a great bearing on the treatment modality to be employed. Staging is the assessment of a tumor with regard to its extent and involvement of surrounding structures. Grading, on the other hand, is the assessment of affected cells. It seeks to establish the degree to which these cells have become tumorous. The systems used for grading and staging differ slightly with regard to the type of tumor under consideration.

Low grade tumors are treated with surgery and chemotherapy. The type of surgery used for bladder tumors is known as transurethral resection or TURBT. The cancer is removed piecemeal through the urethra. High grade tumors, on the other hand, tend to recur and progress resection. They may also benefit to some extent from chemotherapy and the use of hormonal therapies such as BCG. Treatment options for renal tumors include surgery and radiotherapy.

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