Bladder Cancer Risk Factors
By: Dr. Gary Bellman on December 8, 2017
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 70,000 Americans are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year. Bladder cancer is nearly three times more common in men than in women and is most common in people over age 70.
The bladder is an expandable, hollow organ in the pelvis where urine is stored until it is emptied from the body through the urethra. The wall of the bladder has several layers including the surface cells, which expand and deflate (the transitional epithelial cells), smooth muscle, and a fibrous layer. The extent to which the cancer has penetrated these layers influences a patient’s treatment and prognosis.
Types of bladder cancer
Transitional cell carcinoma (TCC), also known as urothelial carcinoma, is the most common form of bladder cancer and accounts for nearly 90% of cases. About 70% of TCC cases are non-invasive, meaning that the cancer is confined to the lining of the bladder and is unlikely to spread. The other 30% of TCC cases are more advanced. In these patients, either the cancer has penetrated the bladder’s lining and grown into the muscular wall of the bladder (called muscle-invasive bladder cancer), or it has spread, or metastasized, to other organs.
Less common bladder cancer types include squamous cell carcinoma, which accounts for about 8% of cases, and small cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma, both of which account for only 1%-2% of bladder cancer cases in the US.
While most cases of bladder cancer in industrialized nations such as the US, Canada, and France are transitional cell carcinomas, in developing countries, 75% of cases are squamous cell carcinomas caused by infection with a parasitic organism.
Risk factors for different types of cancer are traits and behaviors that increase the likelihood that an individual will develop disease. Risk factors for bladder cancer include behaviors such as cigarette smoking as well as inherited (genetic) traits and exposure to cancer-causing agents in the environment.
Smoking- Cigarette smoking is the most significant risk factor for bladder cancer. Smokers are twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as non-smokers. Smoking is estimated to be responsible for 47% of bladder cancer deaths among men and 37% among women.
Genetics- A number of substances, some of them carcinogenic, or cancer-causing, can become concentrated in the urine and increase a person’s chances of getting bladder cancer.
Occupation- Certain occupations have been linked to an increased risk for bladder cancer. People who work in the textile, dye, rubber, leather, printing, or paint industries are at higher risk for the disease because of their exposure to a class of organic chemicals called aromatic amines.
Chronic Bladder Problems- Studies have linked bladder cancer with long-term bladder problems, such as bladder infections and bladder and kidney stones. Chronic irritation of the bladder can also predispose people to bladder cancer.
The most common symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine, which is not always visible to the naked eye and is usually not accompanied by pain. People may delay seeing their doctor because this bleeding is intermittent or irregular, thereby delaying the diagnosis of bladder cancer. Other symptoms include an increased frequency of urination, an increased urgency to urinate, feeling the need to urinate but not being able to do so, and painful urination.
Dr. Gary C. Bellman is a Board-Certified Urologist with over 20 years of experience. He will be able to provide you with great care, driven by integrity and vast knowledge.
If you or a loved one is concerned about any occurring signs or symptoms, schedule an appointment with us today.
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