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Bladder Cancer Basics: What You Should Know

26 November 2012

Try as you might, you cannot ignore the symptoms of an irritated bladder. The frequent urge to go, burning while urinating, pain while urinating, pelvic pain, back pain, and especially blood in the urine can all be signs that something’s not right. Each of these symptoms requires medical attention – whether the result of a simple bladder infection, urinary tract infection, or something more serious like bladder cancer.

Urinary symptoms aren’t necessarily cause for alarm, but since bladder doesn’t always give us warning, it’s best to take symptoms seriously. The good news is that, like prostate cancer, bladder cancer can be effectively treated through robotic surgery.

Using the da Vinci Surgical System, I perform robotic cystectomy to remove part of the bladder or the entire bladder, and even the surrounding lymph nodes and organs when necessary. As with prostate cancer, robotic surgery can improve recovery results and provide realtime diagnostic confirmation of the extent of the disease. Whether or not male or female reproductive organs must be removed can be expertly determined during the procedure thanks to the enhanced surgical view.

Some important bladder cancer facts to keep in mind:

1) Radiation risk. Prostate cancer radiation is associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer*. When selecting a prostate cancer treatment, this should be carefully explored. There is no evidence that robotic prostatectomy surgery increases risk of bladder cancer.

2) Watch your urine. Painful urination and blood in urine require medical attention, but you might not get such a vivid warning of bladder cancer. Blood can be present in urine without being visible to the naked eye so don’t wait till you see it if you think there’s an issue. Any urinary discomfort or changes in urine flow should be explored through urinalysis. If further exploration is needed, a urine cytology will be used for microscopic evaluation.

3) Smoking causes many cancers. Smoking is the number one cause of bladder cancer and it doubles your risk of developing the disease. Other bladder cancer risk factors include a family history of the disease and consistent exposure to certain chemicals.

4) Chronic urinary infections. Repeat bladder infections or urinary stones could indicate a more significant problem. A cystoscope allows for a thorough exploration and biopsy of the bladder to check for the presence of cancer.

5) Preventing bladder cancer. What your bladder processes each day does matter. Stay hydrated and reduce your fat and cholesterol intake.

The surgical improvements afforded by robotics are instrumental in the success of my SMART (Samadi Modified Advanced Robotic Technique) prostate removal surgery and my bladder cancer surgery. Robotic-assisted cystectomy can improve bladder cancer removal rates by 14% and my nerve-sparing technique helps restore sexual potency in just 11 months after the procedure.

The surgical world of urinary oncology continues to be improved through robotics, experienced surgeons, and educated patients.

* According to a 2008 study conducted at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine


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