Early detection and treatment for bladder cancer in Shenandoah Valley


The bladder is a hollow organ that holds urine once it is dispelled from the kidneys and before it is passed out of the body. There are several types of tissue that make up the layers of the bladder wall. The innermost lining of the bladder, known as the urothelium, is made up of urothelial cells which is where 90% of bladder cancers begin. The most common type is called urothelial carcinoma or transitional cell carcinoma (TCC).

Bladder cancers are usually described as invasive or non-invasive depending on how far they have spread into the bladder wall. They can also be subcategorized into two types: papillary and flat, based on how they grow. Papillary carcinomas grow into thin, finger-like protrusions from the surface of the bladder toward the hollow interior of the bladder. Flat carcinomas remain flat on the inner layer of the bladder wall.

When detected early, bladder cancer is highly treatable and even curable. According to the National Cancer Institute, men are four times more likely to get this type of cancer than women with an average age of onset of 72.

bladder cancer


Having a risk factor for bladder cancer does not mean you will develop the cancer. However, it can mean that if you have risk factors, certain tests can be administered to detect it early, when treatment will be the most successful.

One of the most significant risk factors for developing bladder cancer is smoking and tobacco use. People who smoke are three times more likely to develop this type of cancer than non-smokers. The carcinogens in tobacco products absorb into the bloodstream and are filtered by the kidneys. These byproducts sit in the urine of the bladder and increase the risk of bladder cancer. Smoking causes approximately one-half of bladder cancers in men and women. Smoking is also a lifestyle habit that you can change to reduce your risk of developing not only bladder cancer but lung cancer as well.

Other risk factors of bladder cancer include:

  • Genetics and family history

  • Advancing age increases the risk

  • Exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace such as the chemicals common in leather, rubber, printing material, textiles and paint can increase the risk

  • Certain prescription medications or dietary supplements can increase the risk

  • Chronic bladder infections, kidney infections, bladder and kidney stones or having a catheter placed over an extended period of time can irritate the bladder which has been linked to squamous cell carcinoma of the bladder

  • Previous chemotherapy or radiation to the pelvic area have an increased risk


In its early stages, bladder cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms. However, one of the first signs is occasional blood in the urine. This symptom often leads patients to the doctor, and with the proper testing, bladder cancer can be detected early. Blood in the urine can also be a symptom of other urinary tract-related conditions such as kidney or bladder stones. Therefore, seeing a urologist who specializes in diseases and conditions of the urinary tract will be a great asset to a patient. Bladder cancer may also be suspected if a patient experiences sudden changes in bladder habits as it pertains to urination.

Additional symptoms of bladder cancer are:

  • Frequent urge to urinate when the bladder is not full
  • Painful urination
  • Low back pain
  • Having difficulty urinating or having a weak stream


Blue Ridge Urological of Fishersville, VA offers the highest quality of care in the diagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer. We utilize the latest technology to ensure that each patient has an accurate diagnosis and a customized treatment plan for treating any disease or condition related to the urinary tract. Some of the tests and procedures used to help diagnose bladder cancer are:

Utilizes a special scope inserted into the urethra to examine the inside of the bladder. During this test, the doctor can take a biopsy of any tissue in the bladder.

Your doctor may analyze a sample of your urine under a microscope to check for cancer cells

This test uses a computerized tomography imaging (a CT scan) with a contrast dye that is injected in the vein during the imaging procedure. The dye helps to identify any areas that may be cancerous.

If cancer is detected on these tests, your doctor may order additional testing to determine the extent of the cancer. The grade of your bladder cancer will depend on how far the cancer has spread to other areas of the body such as lymph nodes or organs.


If you have been diagnosed with bladder cancer, Blue Ridge Urological provides leading-edge surgical treatment options. We will work as part of a multidisciplinary team, including radiation specialists, chemotherapy specialists and immunotherapy specialists to ensure that you have the best treatment available.

Usually, the first step in treating bladder cancer is to surgically remove it, especially if the cancer has not spread into other areas of the body. Depending on the size of the tumor and the stage of cancer, some patients may qualify for a surgery that spares and preserves the bladder organ and its function.


For bladder cancer that has been detected early and has not invaded the muscle wall, a minimally invasive surgery that utilizes a special instrument called a resectoscope can be used to remove the cancer. This surgery is known as the Transurethral Resection of the Bladder Tumor or TURBT. During the TURBT procedure, the cancer cells will be removed and sent to pathology for testing. Additional measures may be used to completely eradicate the cancer cells. The area where the tumor has been removed may be burned (called fulguration) with a high-energy laser through the resectoscope.


If bladder cancer has become invasive and it has spread into the muscle layer, all or part of the bladder may need to be removed. A partial cystectomy aims to remove the bladder cancer, if it is only in one location, and then close the hole with stitches. The benefit of this type of surgery is that the patient will be able to maintain the function of their bladder. The bladder may be smaller in size which can mean that urination occurs more frequently.

A radical cystectomy is reserved for patients whose bladder cancer is large, in more than one part of the bladder and more invasive. The goal of a radical cystectomy is to remove the bladder, nearby lymph nodes and other organs that are close to the bladder. In men, the prostate and the seminal vesicles will be removed. In women, the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the uterus, cervix and possibly part of the vagina will be removed. This surgery can be performed laparoscopically (robotic cystectomy) or through an incision in the abdomen. After a radical cystectomy, reconstruction is required to store urine and pass it out of the body.

At Blue Ridge Urological, we stay abreast of the latest techniques, procedures and clinical trials to ensure that our patients receive the highest standard of care for the diagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer. Your personalized treatment options will depend on the stage and grade of your cancer. If you would like to learn more about how Blue Ridge Urological can help, call (540) 932-5926 today or schedule a consultation online.