According to the American Cancer Society, bladder cancer is the ninth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The estimated new cases of bladder cancer are about 81,190. Among men, bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer.
Know the Risks
- Smoking: This is the most important risk factor for bladder cancer. Smoking causes almost half of all bladder cancers in men and women.
- Workplace exposures: Some industrial chemicals have been connected with bladder cancer. Chemicals such as benzidine and beta-naphthylamine, which is sometimes used in the dye industry, can cause bladder cancer. Industries that have higher risks of causing bladder cancer include manufacturers of rubber, leather, textiles, pain products, and printing companies. Finally, workers in the field of painting, machinery, printing, hairdressing, and truck driving also have an increased risk of developing bladder cancer.
- Arsenic in drinking water: This depends on where you live and whether the water you drink meets the standards for low arsenic content.
- Not drinking enough fluids: People who drink plenty of fluids, particularly water, every day have lower rates of bladder cancer.
- Age: About 9 out of 10 people with bladder cancer are older than 55.
- Gender: Men are four times more likely than women to be diagnosed.
- Chronic bladder irritation and infections: These infections have been linked with bladder cancer, however, it is not clear if they cause bladder cancer.
- Personal history of bladder or other urothelial cancer
- Bladder birth defects: Prior to birth, there is a connection between the belly button and the bladder called the urachus. If it remains after birth, it could become cancerous. Extrophy, a rare birth defect, increases the risk of bladder cancer.
- Genetics and family history: People who have family members with bladder cancer have a higher risk of developing bladder cancer. There are also genetic syndromes that increase the risk of bladder cancer:
- Cowden disease
- Lynch syndrome
- Mutation: retinoblastoma (RB1)
- Prior chemotherapy or radiation therapy: Taking the chemotherapy drug Cytoxan for a long time can irritate the bladder and increase the risk of bladder cancer.
What Are the Symptoms?
Bladder cancer is often found early because of the urinary symptoms
Early stages of bladder cancer can cause changes in urination such as:
- Feeling the need to urinate right away even if the bladder is not full
- Having trouble during urination or having a weak urine stream
- Pain or burning while urinating
- Urinating more often than usual
Advanced stages of bladder cancer include:
- Being unable to urinate
- Bone pain
- Feeling tired or weak
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Lower back pain on one side
- Swelling in the feet
Although these symptoms could be caused by something other than bladder cancer, it is a good idea to have them checked by a doctor.
Bladder Cancer Screening
Regular screenings are not recommended but two tests may be used to screen for bladder cancer in patients who have had bladder cancer in the past:
- Urine cytology
What Are the Treatment Options?
Treatment options for people with bladder cancer can depend on the stage of the bladder cancer or other factors. They can include:
- Intravesical therapy
- Radiation therapy
What Types of Doctors Treat Bladder Cancer?
- Medical oncologists
- Radiation oncologists