Bladder cancer is a highly prevalent disease that affects both men and women. However, when it comes to diagnosing and treating this condition, women encounter various difficulties. Bladder cancer in women sometimes occurs with unusual symptoms and needs specialised treatment. This type of disease is mostly observed in women aged above 55years, and hence it is suggested to take precautionary measures and undergo regular check-ups to avoid any serious conditions.
Blood in the urine (Haematuria): Blood in the urine is the most prevalent and obvious sign of bladder cancer in women. Although it is crucial to understand that haematuria does not necessarily signify bladder cancer, it is suggested not to ignore the symptom and seek immediate treatment.
Frequent Urination: Women who have bladder cancer may suffer from frequent urination. Sometimes, this symptom might be confused with urinary tract infection or other harmless diseases. Nevertheless, it is essential to seek medical attention if it persists.
Painful Urination: Bladder cancer, like a urinary tract infection, can cause distress or pain during urination. But a continuous discomfort might indicate a more severe problem such as Bladder cancer; hence it should not be overlooked, but further medical assistance has to be taken.
Urgency of urination: Even if the bladder is not full, women with bladder cancer may suddenly need to urinate. This sense of urgency can disrupt everyday activities and negatively impact the patient’s quality of life.
Pelvic pain: Bladder cancer can occasionally develop pelvic pain or discomfort. Other symptoms of advanced bladder cancer, such as weight loss or bone pain, might occur with this symptom.
Surgery: Surgical intervention plays an essential role in treating female bladder cancer. Early-stage bladder cancer is typically treated by transurethral resection of the tumour (TURBT). In more severe instances, a radical cystectomy (removal of the bladder) may be required, sometimes followed by creating a new way for urine to exit the body.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy medications can be given before or after surgery to destroy cancer cells and lower the chance of recurrence. Intravesical chemotherapy may be used directly in the bladder using a catheter in extreme cases to treat the disease.
Immunotherapy: Immune checkpoint inhibitors such as pembrolizumab and atezolizumab have shown positive results in advanced bladder cancer treatment. These medications boost the body’s immunological response to combat cancer cells.
Radiation therapy: It can be used in combination with surgery or as a single therapy treatment for individuals who are not suitable for surgery. It includes using high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells.
Avoid smoking: Smoking is a significant risk factor for bladder cancer. Women who smoke should stop to lower their chances of having this condition. To overcome nicotine addiction, it is advised to undergo medical treatment or take help from support groups.
Drink enough of water: Drinking plenty of water on a regular basis helps dilute urine and wash away possible carcinogens from the bladder. Unless otherwise directed by a healthcare expert, aim to drink at least 8 cups (64 ounces) of water daily.
Avoid chemical exposure: Women who work in sectors that involve chemical exposure, such as dyes, paints, and hairdressing chemicals, should take the required steps to minimise contact and utilise protective gear.
Maintain a healthy diet: Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provides essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote general well-being, including bladder health.
In terms of symptoms, diagnosis, and therapy, female bladder cancer comes with unique challenges. Early identification helps in prompt treatment; hence, frequent medical check-ups and understanding the symptoms are essential. Understanding the various treatment options and implementing preventative actions, such as avoiding cigarettes and living a healthy lifestyle, can dramatically lower the chance of getting bladder cancer. We can improve survival for women with bladder cancer by paying attention to awareness, education, and research.
By Dr. Chandrashekhar Prasad Singh, Medical Oncologist, HCG Cancer Centre, Ranchi