In early stages, bladder cancer rarely causes symptoms. The most common but non-specific warning sign of a malignant tumor in the urinary bladder is blood in the urine (hematuria), without pain during urination. Likewise, frequent urination may occur in the early stages. Especially in women who are prone to bladder infections, the suspicion of a tumor is usually raised late. In many cases, bladder cancer is discovered as an incidental finding during an ultrasound examination.
Early diagnosis improves prognosis
If the tumor is diagnosed early, bladder cancer is usually very curable. The decisive factor is whether the cancerous tissue has already grown into deeper layers of the bladder wall (muscle-invasive bladder cancer) or remains confined to the superficial mucosa (non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer). Early diagnosis and appropriate therapy can prevent serious surgery, such as complete removal of the bladder.
This makes it all the more important to regularly attend early detection examinations as part of cancer screening from the age of 45 (kidney, bladder, prostate) with a urologist. First, a detailed medical history is taken, in which complaints, risk factors, possible cancer cases in the family and life circumstances are discussed. Afterwards, a physical examination and an ultrasound examination of the bladder, kidneys and renal pelvis are performed.
A urine examination is also very important, because it is often the first time that red blood cells in the urine give rise to the suspicion of bladder carcinoma. In addition, tumor cells can be detected in the urine with the so-called urine cytology. For early diagnosis of bladder cancer, we also use various urine tests (urine-based tumor markers) at the West German Prostate Center.