What is bladder cancer?
Bladder cancer is the development of any type of cancer in the epithelial lining of the urinary bladder, also known as urothelium. Non-epithelial cancers, such as sarcoma or lymphoma may also develop in the bladder. However, non-epithelial types of bladder cancer are not usually included in the vernacular term “bladder cancer”. In this disorder, abnormal bladder cells multiply out of control.
Transitional cell carcinoma, or urothelial cell carcinoma, is the type of bladder cancer that resembles the normal histology of the urothelium. It is the most common type of bladder cancer.
Symptoms of bladder cancer
Symptoms and signs of bladder cancer may include:
- Hematuria (bloody urine). If the urine contains blood, it may appear red or cola-colored. However, in some cases, the urine may be clear, and blood can be detected only by microscopic urine examination.
- Pain in the back.
- The painful sensation during voiding.
- Pain in the pelvis.
- Frequent urination.
You should see your doctor if you experience any of these UTI symptoms that disturb you.
Causes of bladder cancer
- Tobacco smoking. The main contributor to cancer of the urinary bladder development is the smoking of tobacco. However, there is no evidence that passive smoking may increase the risk of bladder cancer. In general, smoking increases the risk of cancer and quitting smoking decreases this risk. For most populations, smoking men make up more than half of the bladder tumour cases, while smoking women make up about one-third. As well, 2-naphthylamine from cigarettes has been associated with bladder cancer.
- Exposure to carcinogens. Occupational exposure to carcinogens such as benzidine is related to approximately thirty percent of bladder cancer. Bus drivers, motor mechanics, people who work with rubber, blacksmiths, leather (including shoe), mechanics, and machine setters are all at the risk of occupational exposure and, consequently, bladder cancer. Hairdressers are also at increased risk because of the constant hair dyes exposure.
- Mutations. Some urinary bladder cancer cases may be associated with mutations at HRAS, KRAS2, RB1, and FGFR3.
- Smoking. As mentioned above, smoking cigarettes, pipes, or cigars significantly increase your risk of bladder cancer development. It is due to the accumulation of harmful chemicals in the urine. Your body processes the chemicals found in smoke and excretes some harmful chemicals in your urine. These detrimental chemicals may elevate your risk of bladder cancer by damaging the lining of the bladder.
- Gender. Men are at greater risk of bladder cancer experiencing than women.
- Aging. As we get older, the risk of bladder cancer development increases. Although bladder cancer can affect people of any age, it is rare in people younger than 40.
- Race. In comparison to people of other races, white people are at a greater risk of bladder cancer.
- Previous cancer treatment. Cyclophosphamide, an anti-cancer drug, may contribute to bladder cancer development. The chances of developing bladder cancer are greater for people who have undergone radiation treatment for previous cancer in the pelvis.
- Chemical exposure. Your kidneys filter dangerous chemicals from your bloodstream and then move them to your bladder, so you may be at risk for bladder cancer if you are under exposure to certain chemicals. Chemicals that elevate the risk of bladder cancer include rubber, textiles, leather, paint products, arsenic and chemicals used in dyes production.
- Certain diabetes medications. A person taking pioglitazone (Actos), a diabetes medication, for more than a year is at an increased risk of developing bladder cancer. Also, some other diabetes drugs include pioglitazone. For example, Actoplus met contains pioglitazone and metformin, and Duetact includes pioglitazone and glimepiride.
- Family/personal cancer history. You are at higher risk of bladder cancer if you’ve had it before. Also, your risk increases if someone of your close relatives has a history of bladder cancer, although bladder cancer inheritance is rare. If you have a family history of Lynch syndrome, nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, you’re at greater risk of cancer in the urinary system, colon, ovaries, uterus and other organs.
- Chronic bladder inflammation. If you have continuous urinary infections or inflammations (cystitis), especially those that require long-term catheter use, then you may be at risk for squamous cell bladder cancer development. In some regions of the world, schistosomiasis, chronic inflammation of the bladder caused by parasitic infection, is related to the development of squamous cell carcinoma.