Bladder cancer is type of cancer that begins in the cells of the bladder, which is the balloon-shaped organ in your pelvic area that stores urine. Bladder cancer is fairly common, with over 70,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. Most cases of bladder cancer are found in men. Even though bladder cancer is highly treatable, since it is usually caught in the early stages, this type of cancer is also very likely to recur.
Bladder Cancer Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of bladder cancer include:
- Blood in the urine
- Pelvic pain
- Pain while urinating
- Frequent urination
- Back pain
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis. The earlier you are diagnosed, the more effective treatment will be.
Bladder Cancer Causes
All cancers are caused by genetic mutations in healthy cells. Normal cells will grow and divide in an orderly way and die after a certain amount of time. However, cancerous cells do not die when they should and will instead begin to grow out of control, eventually forming a tumor.
It is not exactly clear what directly causes bladder cancer to occur. However, there have been certain things that are linked to the development of bladder cancer, such as smoking, radiation, chemical exposure, and a parasitic infection.
Bladder Cancer Treatments
Determining which treatment plan is best for you will depend on the type and stage of your bladder cancer, as well as your overall health and your personal preferences. For early stage bladder cancers, it is common to have surgery to remove the tumor and sometimes a small portion of the bladder as well. Another, newer treatment option is called biological therapy. This works by signaling your body’s immune system to help fight the cancer cells from the inside.
If your bladder cancer has reached the later stages before diagnosis, sometimes surgery to remove the entire bladder might be necessary. If this is the case, then you will also need surgery to create a new way for urine to leave your body as well.
Other treatment options include chemotherapy and radiation. Sometimes these are used before surgery to shrink a tumor or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.
Bladder Cancer Prevention
There are some things you can do to lower your risk of developing bladder cancer. These include:
- Drinking plenty of water: Drinking a lot of liquids can dilute any toxic substances in your urine and flush them out of your bladder more quickly.
- Quitting smoking: When you smoke, cancer-causing chemicals can collect in your bladder.
- Using caution around chemicals: If you work around chemicals, be sure to follow all safety guidelines to avoid exposure as much as possible.
- Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables: Choosing a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk for cancer because they are packed with antioxidants.