Bladder cancer is the fourth most common form of cancer in men. It’s estimated that more than 13,000 men will die from the disease this year alone. Here’s what every man needs to know:
Race, age, and genetic history are all risk factors for bladder cancer you can’t change, but there are risk factors within your control. These include smoking (men who smoke are three times more likely to develop bladder cancer), poor hydration (drinking more water means a lower rate of bladder cancer), and taking certain medications and supplements, such as pioglitazone and aristolochic acid.
Here are the most common signs of bladder cancer:
- Blood in the urine: Blood in the urine is caused by many conditions, so it’s important to consult a doctor if you see any.
- Changes in habits: Urinating more than usual, experiencing pain or burning while urinating, or having trouble urinating despite feeling the need to go may be signs of bladder cancer.
- Pain, weight loss, and fatigue: Lower back pain on one side, weakness, and loss of appetite may indicate bladder cancer.
To reveal the cancer cells, a doctor will typically shine a white- or blue-light cystoscopy on the bladder. Once the cancer cells are identified, tumors can be removed via a transurethral resection (TURBT). If the tumors are too large to remove, chemotherapy may be used to shrink them. After a TURBT, BCG immunotherapy can be applied to use a weakened form of bacteria to prevent recurrence.
More advanced cancers may require a radical cystectomy (removal of the bladder). Radiation is an alternative but isn’t as effective.
Make healthy lifestyle choices and be aware of the signs of bladder cancer. Consult your doctor immediately if you suspect you might have bladder cancer.