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Blood in the in the urine is the most common initial symptom of bladder cancer. If you or your primary care physician observe this symptom, it is imperative to seek a prompt referral to a urologist.
Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men and fifth most common cancer overall. In the United States, there are over 80,000 new cases diagnosed every year and, unfortunately, over 17,000 deaths caused by this disease.1 Those numbers correlate to one in every 26 males and one in every 87 females developing bladder cancer in their lifetime2, much more common than is often thought. Risk factors include being male, over age 70, family history of bladder cancer, and most importantly, being an active or former smoker. Numerous occupational hazards including exposure to industrial chemicals in metal processing, truck driving, oil and coal production, textiles, rubber, and latex manufacturing, painting, and hairdressing are also associated with higher risk of developing this cancer.
Bladder cancer actually affects the lining of the urinary tract and can be found anywhere from the kidney to the bladder (most common location), even in the urethra. Suspicion for this cancer will prompt a CT scan and a procedure to evaluate the lining of the bladder with a small camera. If a tumor is found, then a procedure under anesthesia will be needed to obtain a biopsy and perform initial treatment. From that point, treatments are driven by the findings in each individual’s biopsied tumor. A thorough discussion with your urologist will be required to discuss the options available to treat this difficult disease. Rest assured, numerous options exist, especially when discovered early.
1 American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2019. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2019
2 Siegel R, Naishadham D, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2012. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians. 2012;62(1): 10-29.
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