What are bladder injuries?

Bladder lesions are abnormal areas found in the bladder, usually growths or tumors. Most bladder tumors tend to be malignant or cancerous. The main symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine, and they are more common in men, with about half thought to be caused by smoking. Bladder injuries can be diagnosed through urinalysis, bladder scans, and cystoscopy, where an instrument such as a telescope is inserted into the bladder. Surgical removal can be done using the cystoscope, and this can sometimes cure the cancer, depending on how far it has spread.

Most bladder tumors arise from what are called transitional cells that are found in the lining of the bladder. Rarely, these abnormal growths are benign or noncancerous. The most common benign bladder tumor is known as a transitional cell papilloma, and it can cause blood to appear in the urine, in the same way as a malignant tumor. After removal, transitional cell papillomas often return, and are considered by some experts to be a form of cancer even though they do not normally spread.

Frequently, a bladder lesion is found to be malignant, with what is called transitional cell carcinoma being the type present in more than 90 percent of cases. These malignant bladder lesions are most often found in male smokers over the age of 50 years. Working with certain industrial chemicals, especially those once used to make dyes and now banned in many countries, can also increase your risk.

Most malignant bladder lesions are superficial tumors that do not extend beyond the lining of the bladder. They can often be cured by a procedure called a TURBT, or transurethral resection of a bladder tumor. A cystoscope is inserted into the bladder and the lesion(s) are burned with an electrically heated wire loop. Usually, after the TURBT procedure, a single dose of chemotherapy is given to the bladder as a liquid, and sometimes radiation therapy and chemotherapy are given later, depending on the exact type of tumor. Superficial tumors are best removed, because in rare cases they can change to what are known as muscle invasive tumors.

About one-fifth of malignant bladder lesions are muscle-invasive tumors, which extend beyond the lining of the bladder into the muscle of the bladder wall. Sometimes they can even spread through the bladder wall and travel to other parts of the body. For muscle-invasive tumors, more extensive surgery to remove the entire bladder may be required, in combination with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. A cure is usually only possible if the tumor is found early, before it has had a chance to spread too far, but the types of treatment described can also be used to help relieve symptoms where the disease is advanced.

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