The urinary bladder is a hollow, muscular organ in the pelvis that collects and stores urine. Bladder cancer occurs when the normal cells grow or multiply abnormally. Usually, it develops in the bladder lining. At times, the tumor spreads into the surrounding muscles. It usually takes a long time to develop, thus being most common in older people. Majority of the cases are in people over 60 years old and rare in people under the age of 40. If you are 70 or above, your risk of suffering from Bladder Cancer is twice as compared to someone in their 50’s. Although Bladder Cancer is up to 8 times more common in men, however, women also need to be informed. For women, the chance of acquiring bladder cancer is about 1 in 89.
Risk Factors for Bladder Cancer:
Smoking – One of the major risk factors for bladder cancer is smoking (cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoking ). Smokers have double the prevalence of bladder cancer compared to nonsmokers.
Exposure to harmful chemicals- Industrial chemicals like benzidine beta-naphthylamine and arylamines, even at a low fluid consumption has also been associated with bladder cancer.
History of cancer – People with previous cancer treatment like past radiation exposure and certain anti-cancer drugs are also at high risk.
Signs and Symptoms associated with Bladder Cancer:
There can be a delay in diagnosis of the symptoms of bladder infection and cancer are quite similar. However, if one is not relieved of the symptoms with medication, then further evaluation should be done.
Blood in Urine: The most common symptom of bladder cancer is blood in urine known as hematuria. This can be as discoloration of the urine (orange or dark brown colored urine) or detected by microscopic examination of the urine.
Urinary incontinence (involuntary leakage of urine)
Blockage of the urethra which prevents urine from draining into the bladder.
Majority of the women may ignore the most common symptom only as they confuse it with menstruation or menopause (cessation of periods) thus delaying the diagnosis. Hence, apart from being aware of the warning symptoms, avoiding smoking and taking diet rich in antioxidants help in preventing bladder cancer.