Bladder Cancer – these two words have a catastrophic impact as every year, about 5,70,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer and 1.7 million people live with the disease and health experts point out that the most crucial bladder cancer warning sign to be aware of is blood in the urine. It is the tenth most often diagnosed malignancy and the thirteenth leading cause of mortality from cancer worldwide but a quick diagnosis, on the other hand, significantly increases the chances of long-term survival and quality of life.
For the uninitiated, chances of being diagnosed with bladder cancer increase with age and more than 70% people are older than 65 years where men are 4 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than women. The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower pelvis and has flexible, muscular walls that can stretch to hold urine and squeeze to send it out of the body, which is its main role. Bladder cancer is caused when the cells that make up the urinary bladder start to grow out of control and as more cancer cells develop, they can form a tumour and, with time, spread to other parts of the body.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Shrikanth Atluri, uro-oncologist and robotic surgeon at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, shared, “As per the GLOBOCAN 2020, bladder cancer was ranked 10th among all cancers in the world. In India, according to Population Based Cancer Registry report, it is ranked 17th in incidence and 19th in mortality. Risk factors for bladder cancer include gender, age, race and genetics. About one in 100 men and one in 400 women will be diagnosed with bladder cancer, globally. Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for bladder cancer.”
Asserting that blood in the urine is the most important warning symptom of bladder cancer to watch out for, he added, “The similarity to the effects of a UTI, thinking of the symptom related to increased age and the fact that these happen in intimate areas of our body often lead a delay to seek a professional opinion. But a timely diagnosis offers a significant increase in the chance of long-term survival and quality of life.”
Bringing his expertise to the same, Dr Akshay Shah, Consultant Medical Haemato-oncology and Stem Cell Transplant at Parel Mumbai’s Global Hospital, the symptoms of bladder cancer include:
– Blood in the urine (Haematuria) is the most common early symptom and typically the First sign of bladder cancer that is seen and usually painless
– UTI like symptoms. Increased frequency and urgency, pain with urination or urinary incontinence.
– Unexplained pain in the pelvis, abdomen, or flank; bone pain if cancer has spread to the bones.
– Decreased appetite, weight loss, tiredness, feeling weak
– Postmenopausal uterine bleeding
– Any blood or spotting that you notice after menopause could be a symptom of bladder cancer, or some other underlying issue
Effect of vaping and e-cigarettes:
According to Dr Prasad Kasbekar, Consultant Surgical Oncologist at Mumbai’s Masina Hospital, vaping and e-cigarette usage have been recently perceived to be a substitute to conventional smoking of cigarettes. He said, “Many also wrongfully perceive this to be safer and use this as a way of weaning of cigarettes. Some have made this a status symbol especially in high society parties owing to the increased cost associated with the products. Although not yet completely proven, use of ‘E’ Cigarettes and vaping have shown a strong association with bladder cancer.”
Certain studies have shown almost 40 compounds in the smoke of e-cigarettes which can be metabolised to form almost 60 different compounds. Dr Prasad Kasbekar highlighted, “6 of these toxins are known to cause bladder cancer. ‘E’ cigarettes have a very high content of nicotine in their solution, which is maximally excreted in urine. Certain compounds have also been shown to damage DNA in animals. Long term usage of these products has been associated with increased incidences of patients presenting with blood in urine, which is a sign of possible bladder cancer. Increase in abnormal proteins in the urine has also been seen.”
Is your coffee giving you cancer?
Dr Prasad Kasbekar revealed, “Few people have also stated that coffee addicts to be at an increased risk of cancer due to potential toxins like nicotine. However, recent studies have refuted the claim and have found no association between the same. Thus, the moral being that there are no such things as “safe smoking” and one should avoid these toxin related compounds altogether. Think about that over a cup of coffee!”