Making up about 5 percent of all the new cancers diagnosed in the United States, bladder cancer isn’t the most common cancer. As of 2016, 58,950 men were diagnosed with it, as opposed to 18,010 women. Yet, more women die from it than die from cervical cancer, and women are not even as susceptible to bladder cancer as men. Because of this, it’s important that people know the early signs of bladder cancer, which can mimic more benign disorders. Here are five signs to watch out for:
1. Blood in the Urine
The person may see spots of blood in the urine or the blood can only be seen under a microscope. Urine that’s the color of cola or dark tea is also suspicious.
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Blood in the urine can also be the sign of a urinary tract infection or UTI. Urine that’s smoky or dark can be the harmless side effect of a drug, the result of the consumption of certain dark foods such as blackberries or beets or a sign of a liver disease. Only the doctor knows for sure.
2. Burning on Urination
As with bloody or dark colored urine, burning on urination can also be a sign of something other than bladder cancer. It is a common sign of a urinary tract infection.
3. Urge to Urinate
Another sign of bladder cancer is the frequent urge to urinate but not producing much urine. The person may have to run to the bathroom many more times during the day than normal or have to get up in the middle of the night to urinate. This can also be a sign of an enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, diabetes or the effect of a drug.
4. Persistent UTIs
The patient should consult with their doctor if their urinary tract infections are persistent and not responding to drugs.
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5. Pain in the Pelvic Area
This can also be a sign of many other disorders. Another sign of bladder cancer is a pain in the back as well as the pelvic area.
When all of these signs and symptoms appear together, it is a cause for concern and a reason to visit the doctor.
Doctors don’t really know the cause of bladder cancer, but some believe it can be caused by exposure to aniline dyes or chemicals used to make rubber. People who smoke are at higher risk of bladder cancer. People with a family history of bladder cancer may also be at higher risk, as are people with a history of chronic bladder inflammation, Caucasians, men and people over 55.
There are three main types of bladder cancer. The most common type of bladder cancer in the United States is transitional cell cancer. This is a cancer of the cells that line the inside of the bladder. Squamous cell bladder cancer happens when squamous cells form in the bladder in response to infection then become malignant. This type of bladder cancer is uncommon in the United States. Adenocarcinoma of the bladder is also rare in the United States. It’s a cancer of the bladder’s mucus secreting cells.
The good news about bladder cancer is that it tends to be non-aggressive. When bladder cancer is diagnosed, it is most likely to be in situ, which means it is still within the bladder. It is uncommon for this type of cancer to metastasize to distant sites in the body. Researchers claim that the five-year survival rate for bladder cancer is as high as 77 percent. Even the 15-year survival rate for bladder cancer is 65 percent. Of the nearly 77,000 people who had bladder cancer in 2016, 16,390 died of it.
The bad news about bladder cancer is that it tends to recur, and patients need to have regular check-ups with their doctor to see whether or not it has come back.
Though bladder cancer is not aggressive cancer, it is still a good idea to visit a doctor if troubling symptoms such as the ones discussed appear.