Risk Factors for Bladder Carcinoma – Are You at Risk?
by Alex Shteynshlyuger MD
Risk Factors for Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer or carcinoma is common cancer. Approximately 1 in 30 men and women will be diagnosed with bladder cancer during their lifetime. In the United States, transitional carcinoma of the bladder (TCC) is the most common bladder cancer in men and women.
It is important to understand that while risk factors are important to know because they increase the chances of getting bladder cancer, many men and women without any obvious or known risk factors can develop bladder cancer.
If one is experiencing symptoms suggestive of bladder cancer even in the absence of any risk factors, a medical evaluation should be performed.
Bladder cancer is one of the more common cancers especially in men and women over age 60. However, The risk of bladder cancer starts to increase after age 40. Cigarette or tobacco smoking is the most important risk factor. Cigarette smokers are at persistently increased risk for bladder cancer even after 20 years of not smoking. However former smokers are at lower risk than present smokers. It makes sense to quit smoking.
Workplace and Environmental Risk Factors for Bladder Carcinoma
Various chemical toxins in the environment, some man-made and some naturally occurring are implicated as risk factors for bladder cancer.
It appears that the risk for bladder cancer varies geographically across the United States even after adjustment for smoking propensity. This is likely a result of environmental risk factors and variable presence of naturally occurring as well as man-made industrial toxins in the surroundings (water, air, soil). Chemicals known as benzenes or benzene derivatives have been linked to increased risk for bladder cancer in men and women. Benzenes are found in various industrial oils, petrochemicals, and resulting products.
Industrial dyes that were used in the past in textiles, paints and hair dyes are known to be carcinogenic (cause cancer). Men and women who had exposure to these chemicals include workers in plastics, rubber and paper industries.
It appears that women with a history of pelvic irradiation are at increased risk for bladder cancer. This includes women with the history of radiation for cervical cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer.
Men are also at increased risk after radiation for prostate cancer as well as colon cancer.
Other chemicals linked to bladder cancer include phenacetin and cyclophosphamide.
Schistosomiasis is a major cause of squamous bladder cancer in Egypt.
Dr. Alex is a fellowship-trained urologic oncologist, a surgeon who specializes in all aspects of care for early, advanced and metastatic bladder cancer. He has treated hundreds of men and women with bladder cancer.
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