Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that affects the inner lining of the bladder, the organ responsible for storing urine in the body. It’s a common type of cancer, and it can be life-threatening if left untreated.
Fortunately, there are treatments available to help people with bladder cancer manage their symptoms and improve their prognosis. Let’s take a closer look at what this disease is, how to recognize its signs and symptoms, and what treatments are available.
What is Bladder Cancer?
Bladder cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin to grow on the inner lining of your bladder. The most common form of bladder cancer is transitional cell carcinoma, which accounts for about 90% of all cases. Other forms include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, small cell carcinoma, and sarcoma.
What Causes Bladder Cancer?
While personal and family history of bladder cancer increases your risk, there are many ways to reduce your chances of a diagnosis.
Smoking – Smoking increases the cancer risk of many types of cancer, including the bladder. Chemicals from smoking are absorbed by the body and filtered in the kidney. This filtration means your bladder hold small by concentrated chemicals in your urine, damaging bladder cells.
Chemical exposure – Chemicals used to manufacture leather, dyes, rubber, paint and more are linked to bladder cancer.
Inflammation – Chronic bladder inflammation and repeated urinary infections can increase the risk of squamous cell carcinoma.
Common Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
The signs and symptoms of bladder cancer may initially be subtle but become more severe over time. Common signs include:
- Blood in your urine (which may or may not be visible)
- Pain while urinating, frequent urination
- Power back pain on either side of your body near your kidneys
If you experience any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately so that a proper diagnosis can be made.
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Statistics & Treatment
The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be around 81,180 new cases of bladder cancer diagnosed in 2022 alone. Statistically, men are three times more likely to develop this form of cancer than women. It also tends to affect older adults more frequently than younger ones—the average age at diagnosis is 73 years old for men and 70 years old for women. Fortunately, treatments are available to help manage this condition, such as chemotherapy drugs or radiation therapy, depending on its severity. Surgery may also be necessary in some cases to remove tumors or parts of the bladder itself if necessary.
Bladder cancer claims roughly 17,100 deaths per year in the US. It’s the fourth most common type of cancer in men.
Prevention is Key
Bladder cancer is an unfortunately common type of cancer that can significantly impact quality of life if left untreated. While it can affect anyone regardless of gender or age group, certain risk factors, such as smoking or exposure to certain chemicals, increase your chances significantly. Knowing what the most common symptoms are—blood in urine and pain while urinating—can help you catch this condition early when treatment options are more likely to work effectively.
If you think you might have any suspicious signs or symptoms related to bladder cancer, it’s best to contact your doctor right away so they can run tests and provide an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible.