Urothelial cancer – Symptoms, risk factors, and management options
The bladder is a hollow, balloon-shaped organ in the lower part of the abdomen that stores urine. The bladder is susceptible to cancers, including a type called urothelial carcinoma. Cancer begins in the urothelial cells, which line the urethra, ureters, bladder, pelvis, renal, and other organs. Urothelial cancer or carcinoma is also known as transitional cell carcinoma as the cells here can change shape. The condition affects the bladder’s ability to function properly.
Urothelial carcinoma may not cause symptoms right away. However, blood in the urine is one of the first noticeable signs of the condition. Other symptoms include:
- Persistent back pain
- A lump or mass in the kidney region
- Low-grade fever
Causes and risk factors
The cause of urothelial carcinoma is yet to be determined. But healthcare professionals have associated the development of cancer in the bladder and kidneys with the following risk factors:
Age: One might be at an increased risk of developing urothelial cancer as they get older, especially at ages 55 and above. However, the condition can develop at any age.
Gender: Men are at a greater risk of developing various types of bladder cancers than women.
Exposure to toxins: Exposure to arsenic and chemicals used for manufacturing dyes, leather, rubber, textiles, and paint products may also increase the risk of urothelial carcinoma. This is because the kidneys play an important role in filtering harmful chemicals from the bloodstream and moving them to the bladder. So, long-term exposure to such chemicals during filtration might increase the risk of bladder cancer.
Prescription options: Treatment with anti-cancer prescriptions or those who have received radiation treatments aimed at the pelvis are at a higher risk of developing cancer in the bladder.
Family history of the condition: One might be at a higher risk of developing the disease if their blood relatives, such as a parent, sibling, or child, have been affected by some form of bladder cancer.
The treatment for bladder cancers depends on the type, grade, and stage of the cancer. The overall health and treatment preferences of a patient are also considered. Some experts may recommend a combination of treatments. A few common options are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy in the bladder (intravesical chemotherapy) or the whole body (systemic chemotherapy), and targeted therapy.
KEYTRUDA: Healthcare professionals may also suggest prescription options like KEYTRUDA to treat urothelial carcinoma. It is an immunotherapy option that works with the immune system to tackle certain types of bladder cancer. KEYTRUDA might be approved for use along with chemotherapy for certain types of tumors. One could consider KEYTRUDA when:
- Cancer has not spread to nearby tissues but is likely to spread
- The bladder or urinary tract cancer has spread or cannot be removed by surgery, and the patient is unable to receive chemotherapy that contains platinum
- The urinary tract or bladder cancer has spread or cannot be removed by surgery, and one has undergone chemotherapy that contains platinum, but the treatment did not work or is no longer working