Bladder cancer is a relatively common cancer that affects both men and women and develops in the tissues of the bladder, which is the organ in the lower abdomen that stores urine. According to the American Cancer Society, it is the fourth most common cancer in men and the eleventh most common in women.
As a point of reference, according to research, in 2021, there were 83,000 cases of bladder cancer in the U.S., with approximately 62,000 of those cases occurring in men and 21,000 in women. In addition, bladder cancer is more common in older individuals, with the majority of cases occurring in people over the age of 55.
Smoking is a significant risk factor for bladder cancer; approximately half of all bladder cancer cases in the U.S. are attributed to smoking. Other risk factors include exposure to certain chemicals, such as those used in the manufacturing of dyes, rubber, leather, and textiles, long-term bladder catheterization, and a personal or family history of bladder cancer.
While bladder cancer can be a serious condition, especially if not detected and treated early, the overall prognosis is relatively good. The five-year survival rate for bladder cancer is approximately 77%, and the survival rate is even higher for those with early-stage disease. Therefore, regular screening and prompt treatment can help to increase the chances of successful outcomes and improve the quality of life of those affected.
The signs and symptoms of bladder cancer can vary depending on the stage and severity of the cancer, but some common ones include:
- Blood in the urine (hematuria): This is the most common symptom of bladder cancer. Blood in the urine may be visible to the naked eye or may only be detected by a urine test.
- Painful urination: Bladder cancer may cause pain or burning during urination, which can be caused by irritation of the bladder or urethra.
- Frequent urination: People with bladder cancer may need to urinate more often than usual, even if they have only a small amount of urine to pass.
- Urgency: People with bladder cancer may feel a sudden and urgent need to urinate, even if they have emptied their bladder.
- Lower back pain: Bladder cancer that has spread to nearby tissues or organs may cause pain in the lower back or pelvis.
- Pelvic pain: People with bladder cancer may experience pain or pressure in the pelvis.
- Fatigue: Bladder cancer may cause fatigue or weakness, which can be caused by anemia or the body’s response to cancer.
It is important to note that many of these symptoms can be caused by other non-cancerous conditions, such as a urinary tract infection or kidney stones. But if you are diagnosed with Bladder cancer, it is crucial to remember that it is treatable, and many people go on to fully recover. There are several steps you can take to increase your chances of successful treatment and recovery, and they are as follows:
Consult with a urologist or oncologist: The first step after a bladder cancer diagnosis is to consult with a urologist or oncologist. These medical professionals specialize in diagnosing and treating bladder cancer and can help guide you through the treatment process.
Get a second opinion: It’s always a good idea to get a second opinion after a cancer diagnosis. This can help ensure that the diagnosis is accurate and that you’re receiving the most appropriate treatment for your specific type and stage of bladder cancer.
Understand your treatment options: There are several treatment options for bladder cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation therapy. Your doctor will work with you to determine the best course of treatment for your specific case.
Make lifestyle changes: Making certain lifestyle changes can help improve your overall health and increase your chances of successful treatment. Quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise can help improve your overall health and well-being.
Attend all follow-up appointments: After treatment, it’s important to attend all follow-up appointments with your doctor. These appointments will help ensure that your cancer has not returned and that you’re staying healthy.
Seek support: A cancer diagnosis can be emotionally challenging, and getting support from loved ones and medical professionals is essential. Consider joining a support group or seeking counseling to help you cope with the emotional toll of cancer. Surround yourself with a support system of friends and family who will encourage and motivate you.
Stay informed: Keep yourself informed about bladder cancer and its treatment options. This can help you make informed decisions about your treatment and ensure you receive the best possible care.
It’s important to remember that there are many steps you can take to increase your chances of successful bladder cancer treatment and recovery. Contact Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology today for more information about bladder cancer and treatment options. Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology has multiple facilities in the Tampa Bay area in Tampa and Brandon, FL.