The bladder, which sits in the lower pelvic cavity, stores urine until it’s ready for excretion via the urethra. The organ is home to three layers of flexible, muscular walls that contract when we urinate; these walls expand as the bladder fills up with urine. In general, we begin to feel the urge to urinate when our bladders are approximately halfway full, though they can hold about a pint of urine in total.
Cancer can, of course, develop in the bladder. The disease is much more common in men than in women: while a man’s chances of developing it are about 1 in 27, a woman’s are about 1 in 89. Bladder cancer is often asymptomatic, but there are a handful of possible signs that could appear, such as:
- Frequent urination
- Feeling the urge to urinate, but being unable to pass urine
- Lower back pain, but on only one side of the body
- Feeling the urge to urinate multiple times throughout the night
- Experiencing burning or other painful sensations while urinating
- The presence of blood or blood clots in the urine
These signs, however, could also be due to other, benign conditions as well. It’s important to speak with your doctor if you present with any of them.
Another condition that may appear in the bladder is bladder polyps. A bladder polyp can be benign or cancerous, and is described as “a growth that forms on a mucous membrane or other surface inside your body.” They can grow in a variety of organs in addition to the bladder, and develop when cells start growing abnormally. A polyp is considered cancerous if its cells grow rapidly and advance to other organs.
If your doctor discovers a polyp in your bladder, its treatment will depend on its nature. If the polyp is benign and asymptomatic, you won’t need any treatment. If, on the other hand, the polyp is cancerous or big enough to tamper with your bladder function or cause other symptoms your doctor will remove it. This is typically accomplished via a surgical procedure known as transurethral bladder resection (TURBT). During this procedure, your surgeon will first insert a cystoscope into your bladder through your urethra. Then, they will use electricity, wire loop, or laser to remove the polyp.
If you have a cancerous polyp that has spread by the time it’s discovered, your doctor may opt to perform a radical cystectomy, which involves the removal of the entire bladder, as well as organs in its vicinity such as the urethra, uterus and ovaries (in women), or prostate (in men).
The Ezra torso and full-body scans may pick up polyps in the bladder. If you’re interested in learning more, you may do so here.