Each year in the United States there are over 70,000 new cases of bladder cancer. Beginning in the cells of the bladder, this condition is typically very treatable, if it is caught in the early stages. The symptoms for bladder cancer are fairly obvious, making it easy for people to know they should see a doctor. The sooner you receive a diagnosis, the sooner treatment can begin and the higher your chance of survival will be.
Bladder Cancer Symptoms
There are many different signs and symptoms that could indicate bladder cancer. The most common include:
- Blood in your urine
- Back pain
- Frequent urination
- Pelvic pain
- Painful urination
Other signs and symptoms that are slightly more vague include fatigue, unexplained weight loss, and bone tenderness. Since these could be caused by many other conditions, symptoms that are more directly related to your bladder are a better indicator of this specific type of cancer.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or feel concerned about anything else that is abnormal, see your doctor as soon as possible.
Bladder Cancer Risk Factors
Though there is no known exact cause for bladder cancer, there are certain things that can increase your risk for developing this type of cancer. These include:
- Age: Bladder cancer is rarely found in people younger than 40. As you get older, your risk for bladder cancer will naturally increase.
- Race: Bladder cancer tends to occur much more often in white people than it does in people of other races.
- Sex: Men are 3 to 4 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than women.
- Smoking: Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes causes harmful chemicals to accumulate in your urine, which will damage the lining of your bladder and increase your risk for bladder cancer as well.
- Chemical exposure: Chemicals that are linked to increasing your risk for bladder cancer include arsenic and chemicals that are used during the manufacture of dyes, rubbers, leathers, and paint products. These chemicals increase your risk because when they enter your bloodstream, your kidneys filter them out and move them to your bladder.
- Previous cancer treatment: If you have received radiation treatment aimed at your pelvic area for treating another type of cancer, this will increase your risk for developing bladder cancer. Also, if you are taking the anti-cancer drug cyclophosphamide, this will also increase your risk.
- Diabetes medications: Some diabetes medications contain the drug pioglitazone, which, when taken for more than a year, will increase your risk for bladder cancer.
- Family history: If one or more of your immediate relatives has a history of bladder cancer, you will have an increased risk for the disease as well.
- Personal history: If you’ve had bladder cancer before, this will also increase your risk for developing it again.
- Chronic bladder inflammation: Chronic or repeated urinary infections will increase your risk for certain types of bladder cancer.