The Cancer No One Talks About: Bladder Cancer - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on April 21, 2013

The Cancer No One Talks About: Bladder Cancer

It’s the type of cancer that you may not people fundraising for, or supporting on national television. But bladder cancer is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S., and it’s the type of cancer that has one of the highest rates of recurrence.

Somehow, bladder cancer has fallen out of the public eye. It deserves some attention. More than 72,000 people were diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2012, and 15,000 died from it.

And yet, little research currently goes towards discovering more about this type of cancer, let alone a cure.

While men are three times more likely to get bladder cancer than women, it’s often diagnosed at a much higher stage among females due to misdiagnosis and more advanced tumors.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many distinguishable symptoms of bladder cancer. The main symptom? Blood in the urine, which is often misdiagnosed as a urinary tract infection, kidney stone, or other condition. Additional symptoms include frequent and painful urination, weight loss, and pain in the lower back or pelvic area—all of which are symptoms commonly linked to other medical issues. 

As a result, blood tests, biopsies, and other procedures are necessary to determine whether or not cancer is present.

Since this type of cancer is often isolated in the bladder, treatments such immunotherapy, is considered more effective since it can be injected directly into the cancerous part of the body. However, the state of cancer will determine the type of treatment administered. 

Even though the cancer usually develops on the inner layer of the bladder, it becomes more difficult to treat if it grows deeper. In rare circumstances where the cancer is extremely aggressive, the bladder will need to be removed. However, doctors can typically create a new bladder using healthy body tissue from the patient.

It’s definitely a cancer you want to avoid – up to 80 percent of patients will end up with it again.

Here are the risk factors you should be aware of, and avoid as much as possible:

  • Smoking
  • Age, gender and race (Bladder cancer is more common among Caucasian males over the age of 40)
  • Exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, such as those used in rubber, wood, and textile industries
  • Diet that is high in fried meats and fats
  • Arsenic in drinking water
  • Chronic bladder irritation (e.g. bladder infections, kidney or bladder stones)
  • Personal history of bladder cancer
  • Certain drugs or radiation therapies used to treat other types of cancer, which have been linked to increased risk of bladder cancer.

To learn more about Crozer-Keystone Cancer Services, visit http://ckcancer.crozerkeystone.org or call 1-866-695-HOPE (1-866-695-4673).

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