If you don’t know much about bladder cancer, chances are you’re not alone. Unlike commonly discussed cancers of the breast or lung, for example, not many people are talking about it. However, considering it’s the sixth most common type of cancer, it’s important that you know if you’re at risk, as well as the symptoms to look out for.
Bladder cancer develops initially in the innermost layer of the bladder. Although most bladder cancers are diagnosed at an early stage when cancer is treatable, the longer it goes undetected, the greater the chance it will spread. Additionally, the chances of it recurring are extremely high. As a result, bladder cancer is the cause of almost 15,000 deaths each year in the United States.
Who Is at Risk for Bladder Cancer?
As common as it is, only those who are high risk for bladder cancer are advised to receive screening tests. These include smokers (the risk for bladder cancer is three times greater than for non-smokers), workers who are exposed to certain chemicals (such as those in the rubber, leather, textile, and printing industries), and those with a family history of the disease. Other risk factors for bladder cancer include not drinking enough liquids, bladder birth defects, gender (men are three times more likely to get it than women), and race (Caucasians are more likely to get bladder cancer). Older adults are also more likely to develop bladder cancer; over 90 percent of those diagnosed with it are over the age of 55.
Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
Since treatments for bladder cancer haven’t changed in the last 30 years—although a few new drugs offer hope for the near future—it’s imperative that you visit your physician if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Frequent Urinary Tract Infections
- Frequent Urination
- Blood in urine (Color of urine may be pale yellow-red, pink, or dark red, which occurs less often)
- Painful Urination
- Back Pain
- Pelvic Pain
- Urgency (Feeling as though you have to go even if your bladder isn’t full)
- Difficulty Urinating
Since many of the symptoms above aren’t exclusive to bladder cancer, it’s important to get checked out by your doctor to rule out any other health conditions, such as an infection or kidney stones.
Preventing Bladder Cancer
To prevent the development of bladder cancer, it is recommended that you quit smoking, use safety precautions when working with chemicals, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and drink tons of liquids to flush toxins out of the bladder.