The bladder is an organ located in the pelvic cavity that stores and discharges urine. Urine is produced by the kidneys, carried to the bladder by the ureters, and discharged from the bladder through the urethra. This is occurs most often in people between the ages of 60 and 79. The disease is more common in men than in women.

It is one of the most common forms of cancer to strike men.

In most cases, bladder cancer is caused by external factors. Cigarette smoking and exposure to some carcinogenic agents such as aromatic compounds and chemicals used in industry and elsewhere can lead to bladder cancer.

Causes of Bladder Cancer

  • A diet that is high in saturated fat is a cause of bladder cancer
  • Exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace is another cause of Bladder cancer. These include chemicals previously used in dye factories, rubber, gasworks, plastics, paints and in other chemical industries.
  • Gender, It is observed that males develop bladder cancer more frequently than females
  • People who are paralysed have more bladder infections and a higher risk of getting bladder cancer
  • People with a family history of bladder cancer or who are older, white or male have a higher risk.
  • Race, People of Caucasians race develop the disease more frequently than others
  • Repeated urinary infections and kidney or bladder stones have been linked with bladder cancer.
  • Smoking is a major risk factor for bladder cancer.
  • Untreated infection with a parasite called schistosoma is a major cause of bladder cancer in people living in developing countries.

Signs & Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

Generally the first sign is blood in the urine. Other symptoms include

  • A frequent urge to urinate
  • Pain when you urinate
  • Low back pain

These symptoms are not sure signs of bladder cancer. Infections, benign tumors, bladder stones or other problems also can cause these symptoms. There may be frequent urination, stinging and pain across the pubic bone or exactly the same symptoms as in an ordinary bladder infection.

Diagnosis of Bladder Cancer

  • Blood tests: Samples of your blood will be taken to check your general health.
  • Cystoscopy: The doctor uses a thin, lighted tube, called a cystoscope, to look directly into the bladder. The doctor inserts the cystoscope into the bladder through the urethra to examine the lining of the bladder.
  • Intravenous pyelogram: The doctor injects dye into a blood vessel. The dye collects in the urine, making the bladder show up on x-rays.
  • Physical exam: The physical exam may include a rectal or vaginal exam.
  • Ultrasound scans or X-rays of the whole urinary tract are taken - an intravenous urogram.
  • Urine tests: The laboratory checks the urine for blood, cancer cells and other signs of disease.

Treatments of Bladder Cancer

Treatments for bladder cancer include

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy and biologic therapy. Biologic therapy, or immunotherapy, boosts your body's own ability to fight cancer.

Treatment will differ according to the spread of the cancer. Treatment is usually a choice between radiation treatments or the total surgical removal of the bladder.

When to seek Medical Advice

If you develop any serious symptoms it's important to get them checked by your doctor.

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