Bladder Cancer: Its Symptoms and Risks

The bladder is an expandable muscular organ found just behind the pelvic bone. It is responsible in collecting urine excreted by the kidneys before urination. When empty, this sac-like organ is about the size of a pear. As the ureters (the tubes connecting the bladder and the kidneys) drain the kidneys of urine, the bladder expands and its wall becomes thinner to accommodate the fluid. The bladder needs to be about a quarter full before a person feels the urge to urinate.

When cancer cells develop anywhere in the bladder, bladder cancer occurs. Individuals suffering from bladder cancer may experience one or more of these signs and symptoms:

  • Frequent and painful urination
  • Hematuria, or blood in urine
  • Back and pelvic pain

Most cases of bladder cancer can be detected early with procedures such as cystoscopy, or the insertion of a narrow tube through the urethra to visually inspect any abnormality in the bladder and to obtain a cell sample. Imaging tests may also help detect and stage bladder cancer.

Assessing your risk of bladder cancer depends on many different factors. Environmental factors, such as exposure to chemicals and smoking may increase your risk of the disease. Similarly, a personal or family history of cancer, older age, being white and being a man may also increase your risk of the disease.

Apart from the risk factors above, certain medications have also been associated with bladder cancer. Actos, for instance, is an anti-diabetic drug linked to the development of this disease. According to its maker had failed to adequately warn consumers and healthcare professionals about the drug’s risk of this type of cancer.

If you are at risk of bladder cancer and are experiencing any of the symptoms above, consulting with a doctor immediately may result in prompt diagnosis and successful treatment.


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