In the Journal of Urology, Drs. Seth A. Strope and James E. Montie of the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor report that only one third of total adults surveyed connected smoking with an increased risk of bladder cancer.
The American Urological Association (AUA) and the AUA Foundation want people to know that smoking is a leading risk factor for this devastating disease.
Along with smokers, people who work with dyes, metal, paints, leather, textiles and organic chemicals may be at a 20 to 25 percent higher risk.
People who have chronic bladder infections may also be at higher risk. Urine is a primary means through which the body flushes out toxins; the lining of the bladder is particularly susceptible to these compounds because of its role in storing urine before it leaves the body. High toxicity levels in the urine can cause the cells in the bladder to change or become cancerous.
There are several symptoms of bladder cancer, but painless blood in the urine (hematuria) is the most common symptom. Other symptoms of bladder cancer may include frequent urination and pain upon urination (dysuria).
Bladder cancer is diagnosed by taking a thorough medical history and a physical examination. The doctor will ask the patient about past exposure to known causes of bladder cancer, such as cigarette smoke or chemicals.
Also, because blood in the urine can come from anywhere in the urinary tract, the doctor may order radiological imaging of the kidneys, ureter and bladder to check for problems in these organs.
Other tests include urinalysis (testing urine for cancer markers); cystoscopy (viewing of the inside of the bladder) and biopsy (tissue sampling).
Once found, bladder cancer can be treated by removing the tumors, administering intravesical chemotherapy and immunotherapy, or removing the bladder, which is called a cystectomy. If caught early, bladder cancer is curable. High-risk groups should act at the first sign or symptom of bladder problems.