Bladder Cancer Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who gets bladder cancer?

There is no known cause of bladder cancer although there are several risk factors that increase your chance of developing the disease. Bladder cancer usually affects people between the ages of 65 and 85, especially those who smoke. Certain occupations including but not limited to rubber, leather, and textile workers, painters, hairdressers, and truck drivers have an increased risk because of their exposure to certain substances. White males are also more prone. In addition, people with chronic bladder inflammation or infection, who have a family history of the disease, or who have bladder birth defects are at a higher risk.

Q: What are the signs and symptoms of bladder cancer?

Blood in the urine, frequent urination, the feeling of needing to urinate but being unable to and painful urination are common symptoms of bladder cancer. Other symptoms include lower back pain and, in advanced cases, weight loss, bone pain, or abdominal pain. Learn more about bladder cancer symptoms

Q: How is bladder cancer detected?

Because other health conditions or diseases may cause similar symptoms, your doctor will have to perform several tests in order to diagnose you with bladder cancer. A physical exam will most likely be done to check the abdomen and pelvis for abnormalities and may include a rectal or vaginal exam as well. Your doctor may also examine your urine with urine cytology or a urine culture. Other tests to look at your bladder and the area surrounding it that may be done include: cystoscopy, intravenous pyelogram, CT scan, MRI, ultrasound, or bone scan. In addition, a biopsy of bladder tissue to test for cancer cells might also be ordered. Learn more about diagnosing bladder cancer

Q: Can bladder cancer be prevented?

There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing bladder cancer. Don’t smoke or use tobacco products, and if you do quit. Do your best to avoid or minimize your exposure to certain chemicals, especially if your occupation increases your risk for exposure. Make sure your diet is rich in fruits and vegetables and low in fat and cholesterol.

Q: Is surgery always the preferred treatment for bladder cancer?

Treatment for bladder cancer depends on the stage of the cancer after it has been detected. Once the cancer is found, staging tests are done to determine if the cancer has spread and to what parts of the body if it has. If the cancer is in its early stages, a transurethral resection, surgery which removes only cancerous cells, may be done. If the cancer is advanced and invasive, a cystectomy, which is the surgical removal of all or part of the bladder, may be performed. In addition to removal of the bladder, the prostate in men and the uterus, ovaries, and part of the vagina in women might also be removed. Other treatment options include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and biological therapy, also known as immunotherapy.

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