Bladder cancer is one of the most common cancers, affecting approximately 81,000 adults in the U.S. each year. About 70% of bladder cancers are diagnosed at an early stage, when it is highly treatable.
The bladder is part of the urinary system, which filters waste products from your blood and transports waste products out of your body. Most bladder cancers develop on the inner layer of the bladder but some grow into the deeper layers of the bladder. As cancer grows through the layers into the bladder wall, it becomes more difficult to treat.
Bladder cancer risk factors:
- Smoking: Smoking is the greatest risk factor for bladder cancer. Smokers are twice as likely to get bladder cancer than those who do not smoke.
- Chemical exposure: Exposure to some chemicals has been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer including people working with aromatic amines. These chemicals are used in making rubber, leather, printing materials, textiles and paint products.
- Race: Caucasians are twice as likely to develop bladder cancer compared to African-Americans or Hispanics. Asians have the lowest occurrence of bladder cancer.
- Age: Your risk increases as you age although it can happen at any age.
- Gender: Bladder cancer occurs more often in men than women but recent statistics show an increasing number of women being diagnosed.
- Chronic bladder inflammation: Urinary infections, bladder stones and kidney stones don’t cause bladder cancer but they have been linked to it.
- Personal history: People who’ve had bladder cancer have a higher risk of getting another tumor. Those with a family history of bladder cancer may also have a higher risk.
- Earlier treatment: Some drugs or radiation used to treat other cancers may increase the risk of bladder cancer.
Bladder cancer signs and symptoms may include:
- Blood in urine (hematuria): This is the most common sign of bladder cancer. Blood in your urine may appear bright red or cola colored. Sometimes, urine may not look any different, but blood may be detected during a microscopic exam of the urine.
- Painful urination
- Pelvic pain
- Back pain
- Frequent urination
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health