Bladder cancer is formed in the cells that line the bladder, which is the body organ use to store and release urine. This form of cancer largely affects older adults, although some people may get bladder cancer at any age. Often, doctors are able to detect and treat bladder cancer during the early stages; however, because of its high rate of recurrence, patients are subject to ongoing tests and diligent precautions.
Types of Bladder Cancer
Generally, there are three types of bladder cancer that are identified based on the malignant cells.
Transitional cell carcinoma – or urothelial carcinoma – occurs in the bladder’s innermost tissue lining. This is where most bladder cancers begin. Additionally, transitional cell carcinoma is the most common form of bladder cancer. More than 90 percent of bladder cancer diagnoses in the United States are transitional cell carcinoma.
Squamous cell carcinoma may appear after a patient has a long-term bladder infection or irritation. The inflammation may have occurred over a number of months or years. Approximately eight percent of bladder cancer patients have squamous cell carcinoma.
Adenocarcinoma starts in the glandular cells, which are responsible for secreting urine. Like squamous, this form of bladder cancer is usually the result of a long-term bout of inflammation or irritation. A smaller percentage, nearly two percent, of bladder cancer diagnoses are adenocarcinoma.
Bladder Cancer Treatments
Patients undergo treatment for bladder cancer based on the type and stage at the time of diagnosis. The patient’s age, health condition and past therapy for cancer are additional factors that doctors consider. The best prognosis for bladder cancer is to receive early diagnosis and prompt treatment.
Typically, a treatment plan for bladder cancer may consist of radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy. Some patients might have a combination of the three. Each patient receives an individualized treatment plan.
For some patients, immunotherapy and biological therapy are appropriate. These therapies work with the body’s natural ability to fight cancer.
Actos Bladder Cancer Link
There is a consensus in the medical field that the exact causes of bladder cancer are unknown. However, in June 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to patients with type 2 diabetes. A review of a recent study revealed a possible link between taking Actos, a drug prescribed to type 2 diabetes patients, and developing bladder cancer.
The risks increase for those who have taken high doses of Actos for more than one year. Patients take Actos to control blood sugar levels and more than two million patients were taking Actos in 2010. The FDA now requires the manufacturers to include this warning on its labeling regarding Actos side effects.
The study reviewed by the FDA involved over 193,000 type 2 diabetes patients that had taken Actos for at least two years. A disproportionate number of patients – more than one-fifth – had higher risks than patients who took other anti-diabetes drugs. This demonstrates an increase in possible risks, rather than actual risks. This also explains why the FDA issued a warning rather than a recall.
The FDA also admonished patients to speak to their physicians about any Actos side effects such as a change in urine color, an increased urgency to urinate or painful urination. Other serious Actos side effects include blurred vision, shortness of breath and chest pain.