Bladder cancer is a disease that affects the bladder, an elastic organ that is responsible for storing urine that is released by the kidneys. It is the fifth most common type of cancer in the U.S. and when diagnosed in the early stages, it is highly treatable.
There are several types of bladder cancer, some being more common then others. The most common type of bladder cancer is urothelial carcinoma, accounting for about 90% of bladder cancer cases.
The remaining types of bladder cancer are considered rare. They include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, small cell carcinoma, leiomyosarcoma, lymphoma, and, melanoma.
Bladder Cancer Causes and Risk Factors
Although researchers cannot pinpoint the exact causes of bladder cancer, several risk factors for the disease have been identified. The greatest risk factor for developing bladder cancer is smoking. When people smoke, the carcinogens are absorbed into the lungs and enter the bloodstream. Our blood is then filtered by the kidneys and the waste is then converted in urine, which is released to the bladder to exit our body. Unfortunately, the carcinogens from the tobacco remain in the urine and damage the cells in our bladder, potentially causing cancer.
We also know that occupational exposure to certain chemicals increases our risk of bladder cancer. Chemicals used in making dyes are strongly associated to the development of bladder cancer. Chemicals called aromatic amines at factories that produce leather, rubber, paint, and other products are also suspected.
We also know that hair stylists, painters, those who work at printing factories, and truck drives also develop bladder cancer more commonly than those who work in other industries. Other risk factors for bladder cancer include:
• being Caucasian
• being male
• increasing age
• personal or family history of bladder cancer
• bladder birth defects
• chronic bladder inflammation (cystitis)
• not consuming enough liquids
Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
• blood in the urine )either seen by naked eye or microscopically
• painful urination
• frequent urination
Preventing Bladder Cancer
Unfortunately, there are no proven methods that guarantee prevention of bladder cancer. By avoiding what risk factors we can for bladder cancer, we may be able to reduce our chances of developing it.
Quit Smoking or Don’t Start:
Smoking is the number one risk factor for bladder cancer. As soon as you quit (it’s never too late!), your body reaps the benefits of being tobacco free. Quitting smoking is one of your best defenses against bladder cancer.
Be Aware of Your Workplace Chemical Exposure. If you are exposed to fumes, dust and chemicals in the workplace, you have a right to know what you are being exposed to. Talk to your employer about limiting your exposure.
Drink Plenty of Fluids. Some studies suggest that keeping well hydrated may reduce your risk of developing bladder cancer. The more liquids you intake, the less time toxic substance remain in the system, potentially causing damage.
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