July is bladder cancer awareness month.
Here are the hard facts about bladder cancer according to the American Cancer Society:
- In 2015 alone, there are about 74,000 new cases of bladder cancer
- There are already about 16,000 deaths from bladder cancer this year
- Men are up to 4 times more likely to get this type of cancer than women. And Caucasians are twice more likely to be diagnosed than African Americans.
- More than half a million people in the U.S. are bladder cancer survivors.
- Older people are at higher risk with 9 out of 10 diagnosed being 55 years of age and older.
When a cancerous cell grows in the bladder lining and develops into a tumor, bladder cancer occurs.
1. Transitional cell carcinoma - occurs inside the bladder lining
2. Squamous cell carcinoma - rare in the U.S. (only 1 to 2% of bladder cancer cases here are this type)
3. Adenocarcinoma - also very rare (just 1% of bladder cancers are this type)
Cigarette Smoking - this may surprise many but smoking is actually the top risk factor for developing bladder cancer. Fifty percent of cases in both men and women are the result of smoking. Quitting the habit can actually lower your risk.
Age - getting older increases one's risk of getting bladder cancer. It is important to get checked frequently for signs of the disease if you are 55 years of age or older.
Risk factors at work - depending on where you work, there are carcinogens that might put you at higher risk for this disease. If you smoke and you work with hazardous chemicals, you are putting yourself at higher risk of getting this cancer. If you work with industrial chemicals like aromatic amines, you are also at risk.
Previous bladder issues - If you were prone to bladder conditions like kidney stones or urinary tract infections, there is also a possibility you might develop bladder cancer later in life. Having a family history of bladder cancer can also put you at higher risk.
Some of these risks can't be changed i.e., if you have a family history of bladder cancer. However, you can choose to change your lifestyle. By quitting smoking, you will already lower your risk.
Like other types of cancer, early diagnosis of this disease will increase survival rate.
Helping to spread awareness about bladder cancer can also save lives.