Bladder Cancer

Bladder Cancer: Overview

Bladder cancer is the 6th most common form of cancer diagnosed in the United States.  As we entered the 21st century, over 50,000 Americans were developing bladder cancer annually.  Fortunately, it is also very treatable and a variety of bladder cancer treatment options – ranging from surgery to drug therapy – are available to patients.

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Contributing Risk Factors

Bladder cancer can be hereditary.

Signs and Symptoms

Blood in the urine, pain while urinating, and a frequent need to urinate even if the bladder is empty are the main symptoms of bladder cancer.  However, these symptoms can also indicate bladder infections, stones or benign tumors, so a medical diagnosis is necessary to rule out or confirm cancer of the bladder.

Diagnosis and Tests

Diagnosis of bladder cancer generally starts with urine tests.  These tests look for cancer cells as well as evidence of infection and other non-cancerous explanations of the symptoms.  Your family doctor may also perform a physical exam (a vaginal examination for women, and a rectal exam for men).

If the physical exam or the urine test indicates the possibility of bladder cancer, X-rays of the bladder may be taken, or the doctor may perform a cystoscopy.  A thin tube called a cystoscope is inserted into the bladder, allowing the physician to view and examine the bladder.  The cystoscope can also take tissue samples for biopsy to determine whether cancer cells are present.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment for bladder cancer varies from patient to patient and includes radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery, or a combination of these therapies.  Of the three types of bladder cancer treatment, surgery is the most common.  Depending on the extent of the cancer, the surgery may be as simple as scraping cancerous cells off the bladder, removing a portion of the bladder, or in severe cases, removing the bladder entirely.

External radiation therapy targets the cancer with bursts of radiation that kill the cancerous cells.  With internal radiation therapy a small radioactive device is inserted into the bladder.  The patient usually stays in the hospital for a few days until the device is removed.  Often, both external and internal radiation are used together.  Chemotherapy treats the cancer with drugs that are delivered directly to the bladder using a catheter, or they may be injected directly into the bloodstream.

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Bladder Cancer:

Symptoms - Urinary

Feeling false urges to urinate

A frequent need to urinate even when the bladder is empty is one of the main symptoms of bladder cancer.

(Slightly/very) painful urination

See the link between Blood In Urine and Bladder Cancer.

(Recent onset) blood in urine

Blood in the urine, pain while urinating, and a frequent need to urinate even if the bladder is empty are the main symptoms of bladder cancer.  However, these symptoms can also indicate bladder infections, stones or benign tumors, so a medical diagnosis is necessary to rule out or confirm cancer of the bladder.

Counter-indicators

Conditions that suggest Bladder Cancer:

Symptoms - Cancer

Risk factors for Bladder Cancer:

Addictions

Cigarette Smoke Damage

Close to 50% of all bladder and kidney cancer deaths in men are caused by smoking.  Among women, 37% of bladder and 12% of kidney cancer deaths are directly attributable to smoking.  The risk of developing these cancers is two to three times greater for both male and female smokers than that of the nonsmoking population.  Cigarette smoke can interact with chemicals (especially aromatic amines) in the work place to produce bladder and kidney cancer.  Workers exposed to organic chemicals in the dye, rubber, leather and paint industries that also smoke have a greater bladder cancer rate than would be predicted from either smoking or chemicals alone.

Personal Background

Caucasian ethnicity

Caucasians are twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as African Americans or Hispanics.

Symptoms - Cancer

History of bladder cancer

Patients who have had bladder cancer may have a recurrence.

Symptoms - Environment

(High) current exposure to solvents or history of solvent exposure

People in occupations that involve work with carcinogens have a greater risk of developing bladder cancer.

Using water treated with chlorine

Chlorination, the most widely used method of killing bacteria in water, is known to produce powerful carcinogenic residues, including Dioxin.  Studies have shown that the risk of bladder cancer is doubled if you drink chlorine treated water.

Symptoms - Food - Beverages

(High) coffee consumption

Studies linking coffee consumption with cancer are conflicting and inconclusive at this point, but there is a suggestion of a higher incidence of cancers of the pancreas, ovaries, bladder, and kidneys in coffee drinkers.

Symptoms - Food - Preferences

(Partial) vegetarian diet or omnivorous diet

A diet high in saturated fat (which is generally found in animal products) is a major risk factor for bladder cancer.

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Bladder Cancer suggests the following may be present:

Addictions

Cigarette Smoke Damage

Close to 50% of all bladder and kidney cancer deaths in men are caused by smoking.  Among women, 37% of bladder and 12% of kidney cancer deaths are directly attributable to smoking.  The risk of developing these cancers is two to three times greater for both male and female smokers than that of the nonsmoking population.  Cigarette smoke can interact with chemicals (especially aromatic amines) in the work place to produce bladder and kidney cancer.  Workers exposed to organic chemicals in the dye, rubber, leather and paint industries that also smoke have a greater bladder cancer rate than would be predicted from either smoking or chemicals alone.

Tumors, Malignant

Recommendations for Bladder Cancer:

Mineral

Preventive measures against Bladder Cancer:

Botanical

Green Tea

Regular and substantial consumption of green tea may provide protective effect against this type of cancer.

Diet

Caffeine/Coffee Avoidance

Studies linking coffee consumption with cancer are conflicting and inconclusive at this point, but there is a suggestion of a higher incidence of cancers of the pancreas, ovaries, bladder, and kidneys in coffee drinkers.

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Weak or unproven link: may be a sign or symptom of; may increase risk of
Weak or unproven link:
may be a sign or symptom of; may increase risk of
Strong or generally accepted link: often increases risk of; often suggests
Strong or generally accepted link:
often increases risk of; often suggests
Definite or direct link: strongly suggests
Definite or direct link:
strongly suggests
Weakly counter-indicative: may contraindicate
Weakly counter-indicative:
may contraindicate
May be useful: may help with; may help prevent
May be useful:
may help with; may help prevent