May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. With newly diagnosed cases of bladder cancer expected to impact about 80,000 people in the U.S. in 20191, an essential step toward developing a cure is raising public awareness.
Cxbladder encourages you to join the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) for May Bladder Cancer Awareness10 ― and all year long ― to grow awareness of bladder cancer. Ways to support bladder cancer awareness month include:
Discussing your cancer journey and sharing your story.
Telling others about your symptoms.
- Encouraging friends, co-workers and family members to take a non-invasive bladder cancer urine test.
- Participating in one or more bladder cancer month events.
Joining online communities, such as bladdercancer.me26.
You will help raise awareness of bladder cancer31, and you may also save a life. This May, engage with others whose lives have been impacted by this disease and see how far we have come in the fight against bladder cancer.
What Is Bladder Cancer?
Your bladder is the organ where your body stores urine, the liquid waste made by your kidneys, before it leaves your body. Your bladder is located in your pelvis and is hollow with flexible, muscular walls. It can become smaller or bigger as urine fills it. Ureter tubes carry your urine to your bladder. Your bladder muscles contract when you urinate, pushing your urine out of another tube referred to as the urethra.
When bladder cells grow abnormally, they can turn into bladder cancer. One or more tumors appear on the bladder of a person with bladder cancer.
Events for Bladder Cancer Awareness Month
Put on your bladder cancer support ribbon and join one or more of these upcoming bladder cancer awareness events.
You, your friends and family are invited to join BCAN community members as we walk in32 locations across the country to give voice to the many faces of bladder cancer, including patients, families, friends, caregivers, survivors and those who've lost a loved one to this dreadful disease. We're raising awareness of bladder cancer one step at a time. Get involved by finding a walk near you and lacing up your shoes.
BCAN is providing patient insight webinars33 where nationally recognized experts on bladder cancer will address patients and families on essential topics related to bladder cancer research, diagnosis, treatment and quality of life. These webinars are internet-based events where the audience is online. You'll have leading bladder cancer experts at your fingertips directly through your computer, tablet or phone.
3. BCAN Symposium
Are you going to be near Kansas City on May 18, 2019? BCAN will hold a free symposium34 for patients and their caregivers that Saturday, running 10 a.m. through 2 p.m., co-sponsored by the University of Kansas Urology Department. The event will cover treatment options, nutrition and more.
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is hosting a conference called "Bladder Cancer: Transforming the Field"12 that gathers experts in the field to discuss topics like bladder cancer prevention, detection and multi-disciplinary treatment. The event takes place May 18-21, 2019, at the Grand Hyatt Denver in Denver, Colorado.
Recent advancements in large-scale sequencing efforts and gene expression, the discovery of new biomarkers and systemic immunotherapies are rapidly enhancing bladder cancer management. The first special conference on bladder cancer brings together doctors and scientists to talk about and relay essential discoveries related to the scope of the condition, from basic biology to surviving the disease. It will place particular emphasis on integrating new technologies and laboratory discoveries into the disease's clinical management.
5. Lunch and Learn
BCAN is holding lunch or evening presentations in 2019 for patients and families in their local communities to bring them updated education and presentations by experts on bladder cancer. BCAN will partner with support groups, chapters, large urology practices and academic institutions nationwide to provide this program. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to find a "Lunch and Learn" in your area and obtain more information.
6. Buildings and Monuments Lit in Orange
BCAN is shining a light on bladder cancer through Orange Illuminations10, which light up buildings and monuments in orange, the color of Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. Check if there's a monument or building near you being lit #BCANOrange to highlight May Bladder Cancer Awareness Month and raise awareness. You may think about asking a local place to "go orange."
7. BCAN Chapter
A BCAN Chapter35 is a volunteer group that shares the vision of BCAN for changing the lives of people with bladder cancer. These individuals have been affected by bladder cancer themselves in some form and want to support others during this difficult period. Finding support within your regional chapter is a fantastic way of not only having your questions answered but also making lifelong friendships with individuals who understand what it's like to venture on a bladder cancer journey.
Still looking for other ways to recognize this important month? You can check out BCAN's "events calendar36" for more upcoming events. Another great way to honor the month is to share your expertise on the disease with others. Refresh your knowledge with some background on bladder cancer statistics, treatment and risks.
Statistics of Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer is a common form of cancer in the U.S. According to the National Cancer Institute's SEER program, 81,190 individuals24 received a diagnosis of bladder cancer2 in 2018, and around 17,000 were expected to die from the condition in 2018. In the U.S., it's the sixth most common cancer29.
People over the age of 55 are the ones most often affected by bladder cancer. Around 90 percent of individuals11 with the condition are older than 55, and 73 is the average age of diagnosis, according to cancer.net. Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer among men, and about 62,000 men received this diagnosis in 2018.
Bladder cancer is treatable. The five-year survival rate is the percentage of individuals who live a minimum of five years after receiving a cancer diagnosis. The five-year survival rate for individuals with bladder cancer is 77 percent, per cancer.net. The average 10-year survival rate is 70 percent, and the average 15-year survival rate is 65 percent.
How Does Bladder Cancer Develop and Spread?
Your bladder wall has numerous layers made up of cell types. Most cancers of the bladder begin in the transitional epithelium or urothelium, the bladder's inside lining. Cancer that develops in your urothelium cells is called transitional cell carcinoma.
As bladder cancer grows through or into other bladder wall layers, it becomes worse. Over time, cancer can grow outside your bladder into the tissues nearby. It can spread to your nearby lymph nodes and into others further away. It can reach your lungs, bones, liver or other body parts.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Bladder Cancer?
Painless blood in your urine27 is the most common sign of cancer in your bladder. While blood might be visible, often it's only visible under a microscope. Keep in mind, there could be other reasons you'd have blood in your urine, such as kidney stones or a urinary tract28 infection. Microscopic blood amounts could even be normal in some individuals.
Besides painless blood or blood clots in your urine, if you have bladder cancer, you might experience any of the following symptoms:
Burning or pain sensation while urinating
Feeling as though you have to urinate but not being able to do so
Feeling as though you have to urinate several times during the night
Lower back pain on one side of your body
You might not experience any of these symptoms or they might be due to a different health disorder and not cancer.
What Happens When Bladder Cancer Spreads?
Sometimes when you experience symptoms, your cancer has already spread to other parts of the body. When this happens, your symptoms will depend on where the cancer has spread to. For instance, if cancer spreads to your lungs, you might experience shortness of breath or cough. If it spreads to your liver, it could cause jaundice —a yellowing of your skin and whites of your eyes — or abdominal pain, and if it spreads to your bone, it could cause a fracture or bone pain.
Other advanced bladder cancer symptoms might include:
Unexplained loss of appetite
Pelvis or back pain
What Are the Risk Factors for Bladder Cancer?
Doctors know certain things increase your risk of developing bladder cancer, including:
- Family history, genetics and race: Bladder cancer is common in white males over 55 years old. If you or an immediate member of your family, such as siblings or parents, has had bladder cancer or cancer of the urinary tract, your risk of getting it increases.
- Chronic bladder inflammation: If you have a condition that irritates your bladder for a long time or you have persistent bladder infections, you could be at risk of bladder cancer.
- Smoking: Each time you inhale the fumes of tobacco, you inhale all sorts of harmful chemicals. Research has shown 50 percent3 of all bladder cancers are due to smoking3.
- Working around harsh chemicals: Individuals who work in a specific industry, such as machinists, painters, hairdressers, truck drivers and printers, might have exposure to harsh chemicals for lengthy periods. This can raise their risk of disease.
- Prior radiation or chemo treatment: If you've had pelvis radiation therapy, you have a higher risk of developing bladder cancer. This is also true of taking cyclophosphamide21, or Cytoxan, a chemo medicine, for a long time.
Stay Aware of Your Risk of Bladder Cancer
There are many reasons to be aware of the risk of bladder cancer:
- It can spread4. Left untreated, cancer cells can spread throughout your body to other parts. For example, bladder cancer cells can grow on bones. When cancerous cells spread, it's referred to as metastasis.
- It can become invasive. Cancer can grow deep into your bladder wall. Invasive cancers have a greater chance of spreading and becoming more challenging to treat.
- It has a high recurrence rate5. Not only should you be aware of the risk of bladder cancer, but you also should be mindful that even if you receive treatment for the condition, it can still come back. You'll need to have regular follow-up testing and exams to monitor for a recurrence and treat it right away.
- It can be deadly6. Individuals with stage four bladder cancer, the most advanced, have a 5 percent five-year survival rate.
- Early detection can save your life7. If your bladder cancer is spotted early and is small and hasn't spread past your bladder, it improves your chances of successful treatment.
How Can I Reduce My Bladder Cancer Risk?
There's no way to prevent bladder cancer. Risk factors like race, age, gender and family history can't be controlled. However, there could be ways you can lower your risk.
1. Quit Smoking
If you smoke, quit since it increases your risk of getting bladder cancer to three times9 that of individuals who don't smoke. You decrease your risk when you stop smoking. Recent studies also have suggested "vaping" or e-cigarettes can also increase your risk of bladder cancer.
2. Limit Your Exposure to Certain Workplace Chemicals
Workplaces where you commonly use chemicals like leather, rubber, textiles, printing materials and paint raise your risk of developing bladder cancer. If you work in an environment exposed to these types of chemicals, adhere to the company's work safety practices.
Hair dyes also contain chemicals that could increase your risk. Barbers and hairdressers regularly exposed to these chemicals should learn to use them safely. Research has also suggested individuals in the workplace exposed to diesel fumes could also have a greater risk of cancer in the bladder9. Limit this exposure as much as possible.
3. Drink Plenty of Fluids
Drinking plenty of fluids — mostly water — could lower your risk of bladder cancer.
4. Eat Your Vegetables and Fruits
Some research suggests a diet loaded with vegetables and fruits could help protect against bladder cancer. Though the evidence is not conclusive, there are many benefits of eating a healthy diet, including decreasing the risk of developing other types of cancer as well.
Treatment For Bladder Cancer
Your doctor will first give you a physical exam and take down your medical history. They might refer you to a urologist for additional testing to come up with a diagnosis. If you do receive a bladder cancer diagnosis, you may go through further testing to determine the stage of your condition to help your doctor come up with the best treatment plan for you.
There are four standard treatment options for bladder cancer:
Clinical trials are testing new types of treatments.
Contact Cxbladder to Learn More About Our Suite of Non-Invasive Urine Tests
Early detection is key to successful treatment of bladder cancer, and Cxbladder can help. Have you experienced symptoms of bladder cancer or are you worried about a recurrence of the disease? Contact us37 to learn more about our non-invasive urine tests and how we can quickly and accurately detect if you have bladder cancer so you can begin treatment promptly if you need it.