What is Bladder Cancer?
Located in the lower abdomen, the bladder is an organ that stores urine. The kidneys carry urine through the ureters to the bladder then out of the body through the urethra.
There are three types of bladder cancer:
Transitional cell carcinoma – cancer of the innermost tissue layer of the bladder. Most cancers of the bladder begin in the transitional cells.
Squamous cell carcinoma – cancer of the thin, flat cells of the bladder. This type of cancer can develop after prolonged infection or irritation.
Adenocarcinoma – cancer that begins in the glandular cells located in the lining of the bladder.
Bladder cancer can be described as:
Superficial bladder cancer - affects the cells of the lining in the bladder only.
Invasive bladder cancer - spreads through the lining of the bladder to the muscle wall, nearby organs and/or lymph nodes.
According to the Illinois State Cancer Registry, in 2008, about 2,950 new cases of bladder cancer will be diagnosed in Illinois. Of these, about 2,220 will be in men and about 730 in women. About 610 Illinoisans are expected to die of bladder cancer in 2008.
What are the Causes and Risks of Bladder Cancer?
The exact cause of bladder cancer is unknown. Bladder cancer occurs more often in men than women, and more often in whites than any other race or ethnicity.
In 2002, bladder cancer was the fourth most diagnosed cancer among white men, fifth most diagnosed among Hispanic men, and the seventh most diagnosed in black and Asian Pacific Islander men.
What are the Symptoms?
In the early stages, bladder cancer does not produce signs or symptoms. One of the first signs is darkened or blood in the urine. Other signs and symptoms may include frequent urination or a feeling of urgency and not being able to go, painful or slowing of urination and low back or pelvic pain.
How to Prevent Bladder Cancer
There is no definite way to prevent bladder cancer. Ways to reduce your risk include: avoiding exposure to carcinogenic chemicals (people who work with hair dye, paint, metal, leather and rubber are at increased risk); increasing physical activity, drinking plenty of fluids and not smoking.
Smoking damages every organ in the human body. More than 50 percent of bladder cancer cases are found in men who smoke and 20 percent in women who smoke. Eating a diet high in fried meats and fats, and being overweight and/or obese also can contribute to bladder cancer.
Maintaining a healthy diet by consuming at least five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, may reduce the risk of developing cancer.