In the United States, there are about 70,000 new diagnoses of bladder cancer per year. It’s found mostly in adult males, but can affect any age group. It accounts for about 5% of cancer cases in the U.S.
Bladder cancer shares a number of symptoms with other urological problems. These include blood in the urine, pelvic pain, painful, frequent urination and back pain.
Blood in the urine may not be visible to the eye, but it could be detected during a routine urinalysis screening.
Bladder cancer usually forms in the lining of the bladder. Cells in the lining of the bladder mutate and become malignant. This means they start to grow out of control, forming tumors.
While not every person diagnosed with this cancer has obvious risk factors, there are things that contribute to someone’s chances of developing bladder cancer. These risk factors include chronic irritation of the lining of the bladder, exposure to radiation, working with chemicals, a history of parasitic infections and smoking. Some chemotherapy drugs can also increase your risk.
Because lifestyle factors have impact on the development of bladder cancer, people can take steps to reduce their risk. Eating a healthy diet with a variety of fruit and vegetables is one important step. Not smoking, or quitting smoking, can be helpful. People who work with chemicals should also use PPE whenever possible.
Bladder cancer is a common, well-researched disease. There are a number of treatments available for it. Most bladder cancers are caught early and respond to treatment. The treatments recommended by your medical team will depend on the type of cancer, stage, number of tumors, and your general health.
Treatments for bladder cancer include:
Surgery: Surgery may be recommended to remove tumors from the bladder, especially if the cancer is at an early stage. In cases where the cancer is more aggressive, or is recurring, the whole bladder may be removed.
Chemotherapy: This therapy uses drugs to treat and eliminate cancer. Intravesical chemotherapy refers to drugs that are placed directly in the bladder. This is a one-time treatment. Systemic chemotherapy refers to pills that you take, or drugs that are used in the veins. This means it affects the whole body, and can affect cancer cells that have spread beyond the bladder. It may be used in combination with radiation or surgery.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy is targeted at very specific points on the body. It’s administered by a machine. With this therapy, X-rays and protons are used to kill cancer cells.
Because bladder cancer is so common, research is ongoing. Clinical trials may be an option for some patients diagnosed with bladder cancer.