You may not hear about bladder cancer that often, but thousands of people are diagnosed with it each year. It affects the bladder, the organ that stores urine, and is very treatable when caught early. If you are concerned about bladder cancer, the team at St. Anthony's can help to answer your questions.
Risks and Symptoms: Get Educated
One of the best strategies is to learn all that you can about bladder cancer, including its symptoms and causes. Though risk factors can vary, here are some to keep in mind.
Age: Bladder cancer is most common in older people. In fact, it is rarely diagnosed in people under the age of 40.
Race: Research shows that Caucasians are at higher risk of getting bladder cancer than people of other races are.
Exposure to smoke: People who smoke are more likely to develop bladder cancer than people who don't. This is because smoking causes chemicals to accumulate in your urine and damage the lining of your bladder. People who are exposed to secondhand smoke are also at risk.
Chemical exposure: Being around arsenic and other chemicals, including those used in dyes, textiles, and paint, can increase your risk of bladder cancer. The dangerous elements of these chemicals can collect in your urine and do harm to your bladder.
Bladder infections: If you have frequent bladder infections or inflammation, this may increase your risk of developing cancer.
Other cancer treatment: If you have undergone radiation treatment for other cancer, especially if the treatment focused on your pelvis, you may be more likely to get bladder cancer as well.
Gender: Some studies indicate that men are more susceptible to developing bladder cancer than women are.
History: If you have had bladder cancer before, there is a chance you can get it again. Also, if anyone in your immediate family has had it, you are at increased risk. The condition is not genetic, but instead people within the same family are often exposed to the same environmental factors, such as smoke and chemicals.
Although there are no sure-fire ways to prevent bladder cancer, there are some precautions you can take to help you stay healthy.
Avoid chemicals. If you are exposed to chemicals at home or at work, follow all the instructions for safe handling. Keep your area ventilated and wear safety gear, such as gloves and a mask. If you can, avoid your exposure altogether. Wash your hands thoroughly before eating.
Go smoke-free. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about the best way to stop. If you are exposed to secondhand smoke, try to find ways to avoid it.
Stay hydrated. Drink a good amount of water throughout the day. This helps your bladder flush out and dilutes any chemicals that may be collecting there.
Eat well. Try to eat a diet that's rich in fruits and vegetables. The vitamins and antioxidants in these foods help prevent a variety of cancers.
Bladder cancer can be detected early, and that leads to early treatment and better odds for recovery. So pay attention to any of these signs:
- Urinary tract infection
- Painful or frequent urination
- Blood in your urine (which can make the urine bright yellow, red, or brown)
- Back pain
- Stomach pain
If you experience any of these symptoms, or a combination of them, talk to your doctor right away. You will be able to discuss the best screening options for you.
For more information on bladder cancer and screenings The Cancer Center at St. Anthony’s Hospital, please call (727) 825-1253.
St. Anthony's Cancer Center
1201 5th Ave. N., Suite 130
St. Petersburg, FL 33705
Phone: (727) 825-1253
Fax: (727) 825-1332