Bladder cancer forms in the tissue of the bladder, the organ that holds and releases urine. A tall, stalk-like growth usually develops in the cell tissue lining the inside of the organ, and tumors develop on top of these. The majority of bladder cancers are diagnosed in early stages, when the disease is treatable. However, even with treatment, the tumor may recur. Recent studies indicate that bladder cancer is more likely to occur in those who have taken the diabetes drug Actos (pioglitazone) for more than a year.
This form of cancer causes blood in the urine, also called hematuria. Individuals may also experience painful or frequent urination as well as urinary tract infections, weight loss, anemia and swelling in the lower legs. In addition, bladder cancer causes pain in the back, abdomen, anus, rectum, and pelvis. The symptoms associated with this type of cancer are similar to those triggered by other bladder conditions, so please talk to your doctor if you experience any of these signs.
In 2011, about 69,000 people were diagnosed with bladder cancer in the United States. Three times as many men than women develop the disease. Although the cause is unknown, several factors contribute to bladder cancer, including abnormal changes in the DNA during normal cell growth, work-related chemical exposure, long-term bladder infections and cigarette smoking. Smokers are twice as likely to develop the disease than nonsmokers.
Researchers have found that Actos patients face an increased risk of bladder cancer, particularly those who have taken the drug for more than a year – up to 40 percent. This medication may also cause cardiovascular disease, heart attack, fluid accumulation in the heart, shortness of breath, and congestive heart failure. The FDA issued a warning about this link, which came just days after the German and French governments suspended use of the drug.
Treatment options depend on several factors, such as the type or stage of the tumor. If the cancer is detected in early stages, your doctor may recommend a transurethral resection of tumor (TURBT) or a partial cystectomy. These surgical procedures remove the affected areas of the bladder. If the cancer has spread to the deeper layers of the bladder wall, the surgeon will try to remove the entire bladder through a radical cystectomy.
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