By Gigi Chen, MD
Everyone knows that smoking can increase your risk of lung cancer, but did you know smoking can increase your risk of bladder cancer as well? Many people do not correlate the two, however smokers are found to develop bladder cancer twice as often as non-smokers! Tobacco chemicals enter the lungs, and are introduced into the bloodstream which is filtered by kidneys. The kidneys pass on these harmful chemicals to the collected urine, damaging the cells that line the inside of the bladder; increasing the risk of cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, studies have found that men are at a higher risk of developing bladder cancer; 1 in 26 men will be diagnosed in their lifetime compared to 1 in 86 women. It is estimated in 2012 there will be 73,510 new cases diagnosed in the US alone. While there is no way to prevent bladder cancer, smoking cessation will reduce your risk dramatically. Studies have also shown there also may be correlation between drinking plenty of fluids (mainly water) and having a diet high in fruits and vegetables which may also reduce the risk of developing bladder cancer.
When bladder cancer is found in stage 0, the five year survival rate is 98%, so it seems to be a very curable disease when caught early. Typically the first sign of bladder cancer is blood present in the urine. Changes in urination frequency and pain or burning while urinating, can also be associated with symptoms of bladder cancer. Remember however, many symptoms of bladder cancer can also be caused by other more common conditions such as infection, benign tumors, or kidney stones, so if you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is recommended that you talk to your doctor.
Dr. Chen is a Mecial Oncologist with Diablo Valley Oncology in Pleasant Hill. She can be reached at 925-677-5041.