Cancer can affect any part of the body. As a result, it pays to be attentive to changes in the body that could alert to the presence of cancer.
Bladder cancer is a condition that older populations need to mindful of. The American Cancer Society says nine out of 10 people with bladder cancer are over the age of 55. The average age for diagnosis is 73.
Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men, but less common in women. However, the likelihood of getting bladder cancer is affected by various risk factors.
Understanding bladder cancer
Bladder cancer most often originates in the urothelial cells that line the inside of the bladder. These cells also can be found in the kidneys and ureters, which are the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder.
Bladder cancer can occur in the kidneys and ureters, too. However, it is much more common in the bladder.
Cancer that happens in the lining of the bladder is called superficial bladder cancer. Invasive bladder cancer occurs when it has spread through the lining of the bladder and invades the muscle wall or has spread to nearby lymph nodes and organs, states the National Cancer Institute.
Diagnosing bladder cancer
The ACS says about half of all bladder cancers are found while the cancer is in its earliest stage or only in the inner layer of the bladder wall. Patients may visit their doctors due to signs and symptoms such as:
blood in urine
Any urine discoloration, however minor, should be discussed with a physician.
Though age is a concern with bladder cancer, other factors also increase risk. Smoking cigarettes, pipes or cigars is a major contributor to bladder cancer.
The Mayo Clinic says the chemicals from cigarettes are processed and excreted through the urine. These chemicals may damage the lining of the urinary tract and bladder.
Exposure to other chemicals also can lead to bladder cancer for the same reasons; the kidneys and bladder filter them out of the bloodstream.
Arsenic, dyes and products used in the manufacture of rubber, leather, textiles, and pain products also are linked to bladder cancer.
Treatment of other cancers with cyclophosphamide also increases a person’ risk for bladder cancer. Individuals who have had radiation treatments aimed at the pelvis for a previous cancer also could develop bladder cancer.
Family history and chronic bladder inflammation with repeated urinary infections may increase the risk of bladder cancer as well.
Bladder cancer may not be on everyone’s radar, but it is worthy of a conversation with a doctor, especially for older men who smoke or people who have family histories of the disease. (MC)