The Great American Smokeout is this Thursday, and the American Urological Association (AUA) gives smokers another good reason to quit: Smoking causes bladder cancer.
Only about 33 percent of people know that smoking is a leading risk factor for the disease, according to a new study published in The Journal of Urology, the official journal of the AUA. The American Cancer Society estimates that smokers are twice as likely to get bladder cancer as nonsmokers.
Bladder cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in men and eighth most common in women. About 53,000 men and woman are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year and about 14,000 die annually of the disease. In recent decades, there has been a steady increase in the incidence of bladder cancer. 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.
There are several symptoms of bladder cancer, but painless blood in the urine (hematuria) is the most common. Because blood in the urine can be an indication of other conditions, it is important to seek medical attention. Other symptoms of bladder cancer may include frequent urination and pain upon urination (dysuria).
Bladder cancer can be treated by removing the tumors, administering intravesical chemotherapy and immunotherapy, or cystectomy (complete removal of the bladder). Bladder cancer is most treatable when caught early. The AUA urges patients to talk with their doctors about their risk factors and doctors to not ignore any symptoms they may have. The AUA also joins other organizations in urging smokers to kick the habit.
"A smoker's bladder is continuously exposed to carcinogenic substances which, over time, can affect the bladder lining and potentially lead to cancer," said Tomas Griebling, MD, associate professor of urology, vice chair of urology and assistant scientist in the Center on Aging at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City. "If the threat of lung cancer isn't serious enough to inspire a patient to quit smoking, perhaps the thought of losing your bladder to cancer will be."
During this important month and throughout the year, the AUA can provide information, statistics and expert commentary on subjects related to bladder health. The AUA can assist in developing related story topics on bladder health, such as:
- New risk factors for bladder cancer
- New techniques and technology to treat bladder cancer
- Life after a cystectomy
- Treatment options for bladder cancer
- How to deal with day-to-day incontinence
- New technologies or products to assist the incontinent
About the American Urological Association: Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association is the pre-eminent professional organization for urologists, with more than 16,000 members throughout the world. An educational nonprofit organization, the AUA pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care by carrying out a wide variety of programs for members and their patients, including UrologyHealth.org, an award-winning on-line patient education resource, and the American Urological Association Foundation, Inc.