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Bladder cancer

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Author: Emma Broad

Bladder cancer is curable in most cases, but if it isn't caught early, it can spread outside the bladder wall and to other parts of the body. The first sign of bladder cancer is often blood in the urine, but frequent urges to urinate, a burning sensation while urinating, and pain in the pelvis and lower back may also be causes for concern. Bladder cancer is also associated with industrial exposure to aromatic amines in dyes, paints, solvents, leather dust, inks, combustion products, rubber, and textiles. Therefore, higher-risk occupations associated with bladder cancer include painting, driving trucks, and working with metal. Bladder cancer is suspected clinically. Urine cytology, which may detect malignant cells, may be done.

Bladder cancer is generally considered a disease of aging since the average age at diagnosis is between 68 and 69. It is rare for a person under 40 to get the disease. Bladder cancer is a particular risk to people over the age of 65, and men have three times the risk of women. It is detected using cystoscopy - inserting a fibre-optic instrument into the bladder via the urethra. Bladder cancers that have spread beyond the bladder wall (such as to the lymph nodes or other abdominal or pelvic organs) have a much poorer prognosis.

Bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. Prognosis for this disease is dependent on both tumor stage and grade. Bladder cancer is common worldwide. In rare cases, cancer spreads to the bladder muscle. Bladder cancer is the second most common urologic cancer after prostate cancer. About 67,200 new cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed in the United States every year - 50,050 cases in men and 17,150 in women.

Bladder cancer staging and treatment relies heavily on tissue obtained at the time of transurethral resection of the bladder tumor (TURBT) where the tumor is excised endoscopically through a cystoscope. Treatment decisions are heavily based on the aggressiveness of the tumor (pathologic grade) and the layer of the bladder that is involved with the tumor (pathologic stage). Bladder cancers arise almost exclusively from the lining of the bladder. In the United States, 98% of bladder cancers are called transitional cell carcinomas. Bladder cancer is more common in males than in females, with a male-to-female ratio of approximately 3:1 (51,230 cases in males and 17,580 cases in females). Accordingly, more males than females are expected to die of bladder cancer in 2008, with 9,950 mortalities in males versus 4,150 mortalities in females.

Bladder cancer is typically not inherited. Most often, tumors result from genetic mutations that occur in bladder cells during a person's lifetime. Bladder cancer is caused due to growth of carcinogen cells in the bladder. The lumps (nodules) developed inside the bladder can be malignant or benign. Bladder cancer is fairly common, especially in men, who in the United States have a nearly 4% chance of developing the disease during the course of their lives. Among women the lifetime risk of bladder cancer is slightly more than 1%.

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