Though all cancer starts with abnormal cell growth, there are many types of cancer, each claiming a different organ as its starting point. With each type of cancer there are different risk factors, symptoms, and growth tendencies. Bladder Cancer is the 6th most common type of cancer in the United States. As a part of Cancer Control Month, this article will provide some insight on bladder cancer.

What are the Risk Factors for Bladder Cancer?

About 90 percent of bladder cancer occurs in people over the age of 55. Whites are almost twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as African Americans, and men are more likely than women to develop this disease. Some of the other bladder cancer risk factors include:

Smoking: Smokers are at least 3 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than nonsmokers.

Workplace Exposure: Certain industries, such as makers of rubber, leather, textiles and paint products are at a higher risk of bladder cancer due to chemicals in their work environment. Others with an increased risk include printing companies, painters and machinists. Hairdressers run a higher risk, probably due to the exposure to hair dye, as do truck drivers, most likely from the exposure to diesel fumes.

Personal History of Bladder Cancer: Having bladder cancer in the past, even when the first tumor has been removed completely, puts you at a higher risk for the reoccurrence of bladder cancer.

Family History: People will a family member who has been diagnosed with bladder cancer are at an increased risk. This may be because family members have been exposed to the same chemicals, or they may share a genetic trait that causes their bodies to break down certain toxics very slowly, allowing these toxins to linger in the bladder and cause cancer.

Medications and Herbal supplements: There are certain medicines and herbal supplements which if used for long periods of time have been linked to bladder cancer.

Low Fluid Consumption: Not drinking enough fluids may increase the risk of bladder cancer. This may be due to not emptying the bladder often enough, which allows chemicals to stay in the bladder for longer periods of time.

Though some risk factors are changeable and some are beyond our control, it is important to know all of the risk factors in order to develop an awareness of bladder cancer.

What are the Symptoms of Bladder Cancer?

Bladder cancer can sometimes manifest itself with changes in urination, such as having to urinate frequently, pain or burning during urination, or the urge to “go” even when the bladder is not full.

The most prevalent sign of bladder cancer is blood in the urine, which is referred to as hematuria. Sometimes, this blood can be seen easily because it changes the color of the urine to a pink, orange or red hue, and other times the blood is found with a urinalysis test. It is important to understand that just because blood appears in the urine, it does not mean that you have bladder cancer. There are many other issues that can cause blood in the urine, such as an infection, a benign tumor, or bladder or kidney stones which can cause this symptom. It is recommended that you see a doctor right away if you notice blood in the urine, so that you can receive an accurate diagnosis.

If you would like to learn more about bladder cancer, or discuss any risk factors or symptoms of this disease, contact your urologist today.