July is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month.
Bladder cancer is the 5th most common cancer in Canada. It is the 4th most common among men and 12th most common cancer among women. It is estimated that approximately 9,000 Canadians are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year.
The bladder is part of the urinary system. It is a hollow organ in the pelvis that stores urine before it is eliminated from the body.
The bladder wall is made up of 3 main layers:
- The urothelium is the inner lining of the bladder. It is made up of urothelial cells. The urothelium is also called the transitional epithelium.
- The lamina propria (also called the submucosa) is the thin layer of connective tissue that surrounds the urothelium. It contains blood vessels, nerves and glands.
- The muscularis propria is the thick, outer muscle layer of the bladder. It is made up of 3 layers of smooth muscle.
Common Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
- Pelvic Pain
- Back Pain
- Pain while urinating
- Frequent urinating but only small amounts at a time
- Blood in urine
Possible Causes of Bladder Cancer
Although one cannot conclude with absolute certainty the cause of bladder cancer, the following factors have been linked to the disease:
- Smoking and other tobacco use
- Exposure to chemicals
- Radiation exposure
- Parasitic infections
Tips for Preventing Bladder Cancer
There are obvious things that you can do to help prevent bladder cancer when some of the possible causes are known. They include the cessation of smoking and limiting exposure to radiation and chemicals.
Drinking lots of water encourages frequent urination. This helps you to get rid of harmful chemicals that can build up in your bladder.
Added to this eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables lowers your risk for many types of cancer including bladder cancer.