Bladder cancer is the 4th most common cancer. Eighty-one thousand people will be diagnosed with it in the United States each year. It is mainly found in older people, with an average age of diagnosis at 73 years old. Men are four times more likely to develop the disease than women. Caucasians seem to develop bladder cancer more than other ethnicities, but there are more African-Americans who do not survive.
The bladder is a hollow organ in the pelvis with flexible, muscular walls that holds urine – liquid waste made by the kidneys. The bladder can get bigger or smaller as it fills with urine. Tubes called ureters carry urine to the bladder. The muscles in the bladder will contract, then push urine out through a tube called the urethra when going to the bathroom.
Bladder cancer happens when the cells in the bladder divide and grow abnormally. The cells begin to grow uncontrollably and not die. These cells then grow a tumor.
Hematuria or blood in the urine is the most common symptom of bladder cancer.
Other bladder cancer symptoms include:
- Frequent and urgent urination
- Pain when you pass urine
- Pain in your lower abdomen
- Back pain
Smoking is the leading risk factor for bladder cancer. The body processes the smoke and expels some in the urine. While doing so the chemicals made from smoking can cause damage to the bladder and increase the risk of bladder cancer.
Other risk factors include:
- Exposure to chemicals, especially found in workplaces
- Past radiation exposure
- Chronic irritation or infections in the bladder
Talk with your urologists about all treatment options and which ones would be best for you. Treatments depend on the grade, stage, and invasive nature of the disease, among other factors.
- Radiation Therapy
Contact your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or have concerns other about bladder cancer.