May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month, the perfect time to focus on public awareness and education about this disease. Early detection is a critical step in working towards a cure.
Who is at risk for bladder cancer? These are some of the more common risk factors:
- Smoking is the most well-known cause of bladder cancer. It is responsible for up to 40 percent of all cases. Certain occupational chemical exposures also can increase the risk.
- While bladder cancer can affect men and women of all ages, 90 percent of patients diagnosed are over age 55.
- Men seem to be three times more likely than women to develop bladder cancer. This may be due to increased smoking among men.
- Medical conditions, such as obesity, history of pelvic radiation, frequent bladder infections and long-term catheter usage all have been associated with an increased risk of certain types of bladder cancer.
What symptoms should I look for?
- Painless bleeding is seen in up to 85 percent of bladder cancer cases. If you have seen blood in your urine or have been told that it is there on routine labs, please contact your doctor or a urologist right away.
- “Irritating” symptoms such as urgent or very frequent urination, or less commonly painful urination can both be associated with certain types of bladder cancer and should be evaluated.