Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the cells that make up the lining of your bladder. There are over 70,000 new cases of bladder cancer diagnosed and 16,000 deaths from the disease each year. Fortunately, this type of cancer is usually caught in the early stages, making it highly treatable. However, bladder cancer has a higher recurrence rate than most cancers as well.
Bladder Cancer Risk Factors
All forms of cancer are caused by genetic mutations that make healthy cells become abnormal. Abnormal cells, instead of growing, dividing, and dying normally, will grow out of control and not die when they should. This will eventually cause a tumor to form.
There is not a known exact cause for bladder cancer. However, there are certain factors that are linked to an increased risk. These include:
- Age: Though bladder cancer can occur at any age, it tends to occur in adults over 40. About 90% of patients are over the age of 55, and the median age of patients at the time of diagnosis is 73.
- Race: White people are more likely to develop bladder cancer than any other race. In fact, they are diagnosed twice as often as African Americans.
- Sex: With a 1 in 26 chance, men are about 3 to 4 times more likely to develop bladder cancer in their lifetime than women.
- Smoking: When you smoke cigarettes, pipes, or cigars, this causes harmful chemicals to accumulate in your urine. These chemicals can damage the lining of your bladder, which will increase your risk for development.
- Family history: If you have one or more immediate relatives who have bladder cancer, this will slightly increase your risk of developing the disease as well.
- Personal history: Because of its high recurrence rate, you are more likely to get it again.
- Previous cancer treatment: If you’ve ever taken the anti-cancer drug cyclophosphamide or received radiation treatments aimed at your pelvis, you will have an increased risk for bladder cancer.
- Chemical exposure: When you are exposed to dangerous chemicals, your kidneys filter them from your bloodstream and move them to your bladder. For this reason, being around certain chemicals can increase your risk for bladder cancer.
- Chronic bladder inflammation: If you have frequent or chronic bladder or urinary tract infections, this will increase your risk for certain types.
- Diabetes medications: If you have taken the diabetes medication pioglitazone for more than one year, this will increase your risk as well.
Bladder Cancer Types
There are many different types of cells in your bladder that can potentially become cancerous. There are different types of depending on which type of cell is affected. The three main types of bladder cancer include transitional cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma. Knowing which type of bladder cancer you have will also determine which treatment plan is best for you.