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May Is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month — Here’s What You Need to Know

May 05, 2017

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Bladder Cancer Awareness Month is observed in May of each year. This type of malignancy develops in the cells that line the bladder, an organ in the pelvic region that collects and stores urine. Although the precise causes of bladder cancer are not yet fully understood, scientists believe that some people may inherit a DNA mutation that impairs the body’s ability to break down and eliminate certain carcinogens, such as tobacco smoke and industrial chemicals.

The most common type of bladder cancer is transitional cell carcinoma, which originates in the cells that line the inside of the bladder (urothelial cells). The cancer may remain confined to the bladder lining (non-invasive cancer) or it can spread into or through the muscle to other parts of the body (invasive cancer).

While bladder cancer can occur in individuals of any age, it most frequently affects adults after age 55. Most cases are diagnosed in early stages, when more treatment options are usually available. For these reasons, it is important for everyone to learn to recognize possible signs of bladder cancer and to bring anything unusual to the attention of a physician right away.

Here are some signs to watch for:

  • Blood in the urine (hematuria), which can make the urine appear rusty or bright red in color
  • Urinary urgency
  • A need to empty the bladder more frequently than usual
  • A need to empty the bladder with no results
  • A need to strain or bear down when emptying the bladder
  • Painful urination
  • Back or pelvic pain

Of course, these symptoms can often be attributed to other conditions, such as infections, kidney stones or an enlarged prostate gland. As such, the only way to confirm the underlying cause is to consult with a medical professional who can provide a proper diagnosis. At Moffitt Cancer Center, the multispecialty team in our Genitourinary Oncology Program diagnoses and treats many patients, helping to ensure that each achieves the best possible outcome and quality of life.

Moffitt offers a full range of the latest treatments for bladder cancer, including chemotherapy, radiation treatment and intravesical therapy. Our fellowship-trained surgeons are skilled and experienced in performing several advanced surgical procedures, including segmental cystectomy, radical cystectomy, transurethral resection and bladder reconstruction. We also offer promising new options through our robust clinical trials program.

If you’d like more information about bladder cancer, you can call Moffitt Cancer Center at 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. You do not need a referral to speak with one of our urologic oncologists.

Infographic: Who's at risk?