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    BLADDER CANCER FACTS

    Cause

    Specific causes of bladder cancer are not known. We do know that, when DNA is damaged, abnormal cell growth may occur and a tumor may form.

    Importance of Early Detection

    The National Cancer Institute notes that most bladder cancers begin in cells that normally make up the lining of the bladder. This is known as transitional cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma begins in thin, flat cells. And adenocarcinoma is cancer that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids. In later stages, cancer cells may spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body. Early detection of bladder cancer enables physicians to select appropriate treatment early on and manage the disease.

    Primary and Secondary Symptoms

    Blood in the urine (known as hematuria)—either seen by an individual as a rust or red color when urinating or detected by a doctor during a urine test—is usually the first sign that bladder cancer may be present. 

    A word of caution:  Blood in the urine can mean problems other than bladder cancer. A urinary tract infection, kidney disease, kidney or bladder stones, and some prostate problems are other potential causes. The important lesson is to contact your doctor immediately if you see blood when you urinate. 

    Other symptoms which may indicate bladder cancer include pain in the lower abdomen, or painful, frequent, or difficult urination.

    Risk Factors

    A number of studies reveal several risk factors for bladder cancer, including:

    • Advancing age. The incidence of bladder cancer increases significantly with age.
    • Smoking cigarettes, pipes, or cigars.
    • Working in environments where chemicals, dyes, coal, and gas byproducts are present.
    • Race, gender, and location: Caucasians have a significantly greater chance of getting bladder cancer than people of other races; men are more than twice as likely as women to get the disease; and those who live in urban centers are more at risk.
    However, not everyone diagnosed with bladder cancer demonstrates these factors; the absence of these risk factors does not necessarily preclude the possibility of bladder cancer.

    Cancer Treatment Options

    Every case is different. If you receive a diagnosis of bladder cancer, discuss treatment options with your physician to determine exactly what’s best for your stage and grade of cancer. Treatments include:

    • Surgery – ranging from transurethral resection (TUR) for early-stage cancer to segmental (removal of part of the bladder) to radical cystectomy (removal of the entire bladder)
    • Radiation – either before or after surgery, and either internal or external radiation
    • Immunotherapy – such as bacillus Calmette-Guerin
    • Chemotherapy – using a drug or combination drugs, either orally or intravenously, to attack and kill cancer cells
    • A combination of any or all of the above options

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    References Resources:

    Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network www.bcan.org 

    National Cancer Institute www.cancer.gov