Leading urologic oncologist explains bladder cancer basics

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An unhappy bladder won't be ignored. Frequent urination, pain while urinating, burning while urinating, blood in the urine, and even back pain or pelvic pain can all be symptoms of bladder cancer or other urinary tract problems. The trick, however, is that the absence of urinary symptoms doesn't guarantee a healthy bladder. David Samadi, MD, leading urologic oncologist, expertly blends the benefits of robotic surgery with his surgical expertise in robotic prostatectomy for prostate cancer and robotic cystectomy for bladder removal and urinary diversion.

"The da Vinci Surgical System provides the means for minimally invasive cystectomy with less blood loss, shorter hospital stay, and faster recovery," says Dr. Samadi, robotic surgeon for prostate cancer, as well as bladder cancer in men and women. A robotic cystectomy for bladder cancer can be performed to remove a portion of the bladder, the entire bladder, or the bladder plus nearby lymph nodes and organs.  

"Whether or not we need to remove the male or female reproductive organs depends on the degree of bladder cancer. Robotic surgery is instrumental in that analysis as it provides an extremely clean and enhanced view of the area for exact cancer analysis during the procedure," explains Dr. Samadi.

Urinary symptoms shouldn't trigger panic, but they shouldn't be ignored either. Even when cancer isn't present, urinary tract infections or bacterial infections require medical attention.

Bladder Cancer Basics

1)  Radiation risk. Radiation treatment for prostate cancer can increase your risk of bladder cancer compared to radical prostatectomy, according to a University of Miami Miller School of Medicine study published in 2008. If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer it's important to consider these potential treatment risks. Robotic prostate removal surgery is not associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.

2)  Your urine tells a partial story. Seek medical care for painful urination or the presence of blood in your urine. These two symptoms don't confirm bladder cancer, but they warrant investigations. More important, your body may not signal an issue in a way that's visible to you. You can have blood in your urine without actually seeing it, so even pelvic pain or back pain are important warnings. Urinalysis for white blood cells, followed by urine cytology (microscopic evaluation) are the first steps.

3)  Smoking causes more than lung cancer. Smoking doubles your risk of developing bladder cancer. The carcinogens found in cigarettes, cigars, and pipes are the leading cause of bladder cancer, followed by exposure to some chemicals and genetics.

4)  Chronic concerns. If you suffer repeat urinary tract infections, urinary stones, or bladder inflammation it could be sign of something more serious brewing. Using a cystoscope, a small lens inserted through the urethra, Dr. Samadi can explore and biopsy the bladder for further analysis.

5)  Bladder cancer prevention. Since the bladder is part of the body's filtration system, experts believe that what you put in matters. Drinking plenty of water and reducing fat and cholesterol can help.

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 70,000 Americans will be diagnosed with bladder cancer this year. Robotic-assisted cystectomy, the hands of an expert surgeon like Dr. Samadi, improves the bladder cancer removal rate by 14 percent over traditional, open surgery. His nerve-sparing techniques can help male patients resume natural sexual potency in as little as 11 months after surgery.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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