By: Dr. Thomas Incledon
What is bladder cancer and am I at risk?
Bladder cancer is made up of malignant cells that originate in tissues of the bladder, which is the organ where urine is stored. To better understand bladder cancer, it is important to know that the bladder is a balloon type organ that can expand and contract and is located in the lower abdomen. Urine passes through the kidneys, which are located on either side of the spine in the lower back, and then the bladder holds the urine until you empty it.
A challenge with bladder cancer is that people may not know they have it until it is in a late stage. You cannot feel it growing and symptoms can often be attributed to something less severe. This serves as a reminder that everyone needs regular check-ups; you can catch a problem before it is too advanced when you stay up-to-date on your overall health. Especially with bladder cancer, early detection is key because treatments can be very hard on the body. You can save yourself time, money, effort, and pain by being aware of signs and acting quickly.
Common signs and symptoms of bladder cancer are abdominal or pelvic pain, pain during urination, frequent urination, and lower back pain. Another sign of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. However, it is important to keep in mind that just because there is blood in the urine does not mean you have cancer. Blood in the urine can also be a sign of infection, which can be tested for simply at your doctor’s office. Dr. Tom Incledon, founder and CEO of Causenta recommends doing that test in the morning to get the most accurate results. If something abnormal is found during that screening or a physical exam, your doctor will likely get a biopsy sample to determine if there are any cancerous cells present.
There are quite a few common risk factors for bladder cancer that can help you determine if you should speak with your doctor about concerns you may have.
- Tobacco use, specifically smoking cigarettes.
- Family history of bladder cancer.
- Certain genes are linked to bladder cancer; a blood test can determine if you were born with a mutation that was passed from one parent or both that can increase your risk.
- Exposure to certain chemicals from the environment, including paints, dyes, and petroleum. Research over time has uncovered trends with common chemicals used in various industrial jobs that are connected to bladder cancer.
- People who have been treated with specific anticancer drugs or radiation to the pelvis to treat another type of cancer are at a higher risk for later developing bladder cancer.
- Ingesting Chinese herbs that contain aristolochic acid.
- Drinking water with high arsenic levels; this is common with well water. To prevent issues, check your well water supply regularly and be sure the filtration system is working properly.
- Drinking water that has been treated with chlorine.
- Frequent bladder infections and/ or frequent use of catheters, which can increase the rate of infection and irritate the lining of bladder tissue. When there is a consistent increase in inflammation, bladder cancer is more likely to develop.
To learn more about bladder cancer symptoms and personalized treatment options at Causenta, schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation today.