​Kidney and Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer develops when healthy cells present in the lining of the bladder, most often urothelial cells (cells lining the urinary tract), change and grow abnormally, forming a tumour. Kidney cancer describes instances where a tumour develops in the kidney. ​

The first warning sign of kidney and bladder cancer is blood in the urine (haematuria). You may see this as a pink, brown or red discoloration. The discharge is episodic and is usually painless.

You may also feel a burning sensation during urination. You start to experience an increased need to urinate, the frequency increasing during the night. Although you might feel the necessary urge to urinate, you might be unable to pass urine.

You start to experience lower back pain on one side, (area above the pelvis, and below the ribs in the abdomen). The onset of the pain is sudden and can range from a dull ache or a sharp pang, and usually lasts for weeks.

You might start feeling tired more often. This fatigue will be easy to differentiate as it is usually unresolved by sleep and starts to affect your performance during the day.

You may also experience fever, not caused by cold or flu.

The onset of cancer will leave you having a loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.

During the advanced stages of the cancer, you start to notice swelling in your ankles and legs. You may also experience bone pain. ​

Visit a doctor immediately if you see traces of blood in your urine. Although blood in urine is not always indicative of cancer, the doctor will carry out further investigations to rule out the possibility. Blood loss in the urine may lead to anaemia and consequential fatigue. If unresolved fatigue is bothering your performance, make an appointment with a consultant working with the Oncology Service Line​ at The Aga Khan University Hospital. 
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so makes sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here​ are some tips to help get you started.
If you are showing any symptoms of kidney and bladder cancer, you will be asked for your medical history especially the incidence of kidney and bladder cancer in your family. This is followed by a physical examination by the medical examiner. Women have to undergo an examination of their rectum and vagina to assess for any lumps and determine the spread of the tumour. In the event of abnormal results, you will be asked to take a urinalysis test. If the tests indicate cancer, you will have to undergo a biopsy to further test for cancerous cells.

Your doctor may also request the following tests and procedures:

  • Complete blood count (CBC):​One or more parameters related to red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets might be affected in this condition. Therefore, it is an ancillary test in the diagnostic workup of this disease.
  • ​Bone marrow biopsy: It is done as staging workup if it is suspected that primary tumor (kidney or bladder) has also involved bone marrow.

​​Disclaimer: Kindly consult your physician before getting the above-mentioned tests.

If you are diagnosed with kidney and bladder cancer, you will be offered a number of treatments to choose from.

  • If detected in the earlier stages, you might not need to undergo any treatment at all. Rather, you will be asked to closely monitor the growth of the cancer through frequent visits to the medical consultant. 

  • Surgery is the most common choice amongst patients, in case the cancer has not spread outside the gland. 

  • In case the cancer cells have spread, you can opt for radiation therapy. This treatment employs the use of high energy rays or particles that kill the cancer cells.

  • You can also choose to undergo a targeted therapy. This treatment targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissues that contribute to its growth, thereby diminishing it. Targeted therapy is increasingly gaining popularity for the treatment of Kidney and Bladder Cancer. 

  • You can choose chemotherapy as a treatment for the cancer. This treatment employs the introduction of anti-cancer drugs either intravenously or orally. Chemotherapy is effective especially if the body has undergone metastasis. 

  • You can choose Immunotherapy or biologic therapy to counter the cancerous growth. This treatment boosts the body’s defence mechanism either naturally or artificially, to help its white blood cells to restore the immune system. ​​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.