Thankfully most bladder cancer is detected early, and by following your doctor’s advice and treatment plan bladder cancer is highly treatable.
No one knows for sure what exactly causes bladder cancer, but there are factors that contribute to a higher risk of the disease.
- A parasite called Schistosoma that is most often found in developing countries
- Being over the age of 40
- Eating a diet high in fried meats and fats increases risk
- Exposure to cancer causing chemicals (carcinogens)
- Males get bladder cancer more frequently than females
- Smoking – If you smoke cigarettes or cigars, then you are much more likely to get bladder cancer
- White or Caucasian people are more likely to get bladder cancer than other ethnic groups
Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
Like many other forms of cancer, bladder cancer often doesn’t have any symptoms in its early stages. When symptoms do occur they often affect the urinary functions and include:
- Abdominal or back pain
- Bloody urine
- Fever that is low grade and persistent
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Painful urination
- Swelling in the ankles
- Urinary urgency or incontinence
- Weight loss
Many of these symptoms also fit other conditions, and may not indicate bladder cancer. If you present with any of these symptoms you should consult with a doctor for screening and diagnosis.
If you are diagnosed with bladder cancer there are several treatment choices available. Most of the time it is curable if caught while the cancer is still contained in the bladder and 74% of cases are caught at this stage. Like other types of cancer, bladder cancer is often treated with multiple therapies. The treatment choices available include:
There are also clinical trials involving bladder cancer treatments, and the results of a recent trial that showed increased survival rates of advanced cancers. It's always worth discussing the best treatment options with your physician.
Coping with the Disease
When talking about medical issues one of the things that sometimes gets ignored is addressing how to cope with the disease. When you are dealing with an issue like cancer, the worry it causes can leave you with a feeling that have no control over your own life. Even if the diagnosis feels overwhelming, there are things you can do that will help you deal with it.
Rally the Troops
It is proven that if you have a good support system in place, then you are more likely to survive your cancer. Talk with other cancer survivors. Join a support group so that you feel connected and as much as possible keep up with your relationships with your friends and family.
Know the Plan
Get a treatment plan together, and understand how it is going to work. Then get your cancer treated. Don’t skip appointments and if you have changes in symptoms or concerns about what is happening, talk with your doctor. Once your cancer is cured be sure to keep all of your follow up appointments.
Take Care of Yourself
Lower your risks of recurrence of your disease and strengthen your body’s ability to fight it by taking care of yourself. The best things you can do for your body is have a healthy diet and exercise. Eat a diet high in veggies and fruits and aim to exercise 30 minutes, most days of the week.
Any diagnosis of cancer can be scary, but with early detection and treatment most cancers can be beat. Be sure to stay in communication with your doctor, and if you have any symptoms that suggest bladder cancer schedule a screening.