According to the American Cancer Society, bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer among men and is the 8th most common cause of death in men due to cancer. The symptoms are wide-ranging but don’t always show themselves, so yearly checkups with your doctor are strongly advised – you’ve got family and other responsibilities to uphold.
Even if the symptoms aren’t always noticeable, there are plenty of risk factors to be aware of and avoid as much as possible. At Comprehensive Urology in Los Angeles, we specialize in diagnosing cancer of the bladder and bladder cancer treatment, and we want to make sure you understand the most common risk factors for this disease.
Common Risk Factors
These factors increase chances of a person acquiring bladder cancer:
General Personal Makeup
Simply put, if you are a white male aged 55 or older, you’re at the most risk.
Men are three times more likely than women to get bladder cancer. Nearly nine out of every 10 Americans who get this disease are 55 or older. Caucasians are twice as likely to get it as African Americans, and several times more likely than Asians, Hispanics, and Native Americans.
Like most cancers, the incidence of bladder cancer increases with age and generally speaking older patients have a higher chance of having cancer of the bladder compared to younger patients.
If you’ve had a family member with bladder cancer, your risk rises significantly. In some cases, there may be certain aspects of your DNA that make you more prone to developing this form of cancer, while in other instances, it could be that you and your affected family members were exposed to the same carcinogen. Either way, family history plays an important part.
We don’t want to make you paranoid, but there are many chemicals in your surroundings that are big risk factors. Aniline dyes and some of the dye in your clothes, such as benzidine, has been strongly linked with bladder cancer. This is true for many other petrochemicals. In fact, many products in your LA home or office made of leather, rubber, textiles, or ink could contain chemicals that expose you to more risk.
Arsenic in public drinking water has also been found to be associated with it, though every locality has safety measures in place that restrict the amount of level in the sources of public drinking water. Certain jobs are thought to be riskier, as well. These include painters, printers, truck drivers, dry cleaners, and hairdressers, to name a few.
Previous Personal History
If you’ve undergone chemotherapy or radiation therapy for another type of cancer, your risk of bladder cancer is heightened. A chemotherapy drug called cyclophosphamide has been linked to higher risk as has frequent radiation aimed at your pelvic region.
If you already have a history of cancer, then your risk is certainly elevated, as cancer can return in other, connected regions such as your kidneys, ureter, or urethra. If you’ve had bladder cancer treatment in the past in Beverly Hills, you should closely monitor your recovery and be alert for any signs of recurrence because it commonly happens.
Last, but most certainly not least, is smoking. In fact, it’s probably not a surprise that smoking and tobacco use are the most common risk factors – it’s thought to be the cause of more than half of all bladder cancer cases. In fact, smokers are up to four times more likely to develop it than are nonsmokers.
If you quit, you’ll almost immediately lower your risk of getting this cancer. When you inhale cigarette smoke, cancer-causing chemicals are eventually filtered by your kidneys and deposited into the urine in your bladder, which damages cells on the organ’s walls and increases your risk.
“Second-hand” smoke or inhalation of another person’s tobacco some who is in the same location with you, also poses a risk.
Learn more about risk factors for this disease at WebMD.com.
Bladder Cancer Prognosis and Survival Rates
After it’s been found that you have this cancer, the next step is to undergo a bladder staging test, such as a CT scan or MRI, to determine which of the four levels of this cancer you have:
- Stage I – Cancer is in the bladder inner lining but not yet in the muscular bladder wall.
- Stage II – Cancerous cells are now in the bladder wall but still confined within the organ.
- Stage III – The diseased cells have spread to tissue surrounding the bladder.
- Stage IV – Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and other organs.
Your bladder cancer prognosis depends on a variety of elements, including which stage you’re in, the treatment you choose, and your body’s reaction to bladder cancer treatment.
As such, bladder cancer survival rates vary from patient to patient. However, here are some general survival rates:
- 5-year survival rate (SR) = 77%
- 10-year SR = 70%
- 15-year SR = 65%
These general rates are based on the cancer being confined to your bladder.
On the other hand, the rates of survival plummet once the cancer is no longer confined to the bladder. If cancer has spread to nearby organs, it drastically cuts down survival rate (e.g., 5-year SR is 34%). If cancer spreads to other, distant parts, there’s an even sharper decline (e.g., 5-year SR is 5%).
In a Nutshell: Bladder Cancer
- Risk factors: Smoking, chemical exposures, age and ethnicity, family history, chemo or pelvic radiation therapy for other cancers
- Symptoms: These may vary but most importantly include no symptoms, weight loss, blood in the urine, change in urinary frequency/urgency
- Staging: If diagnosed with bladder cancer, it is important to know if the cancer is confined to the bladder or involves other organs as this can significantly affect treatment.
Bladder Cancer Questions? Contact Comprehensive Urology Beverly Hills Today
If you are exposed on a daily basis to any of the risk factors mentioned above, you should be checked by a specialist. Know the general carcinogens for developing this cancer as well as your own personal risk factors. Contact the Los Angeles bladder cancer specialists at Comprehensive Urology for a consultation. Visit us online or call 310.499.2756 to schedule an appointment and learn more. Your family will thank you.