Bladder Cancer Treatment Options

Bladder Cancer Causes

With up to 80 percent of all bladder cancer cases diagnosed in the earliest stages, many patients are left wondering how they got this disease. There's no easy answer.

While it's not yet known what causes this disease, medical researcher point to every day occurrences like smoking, chemical exposure, and chronic bladder infections as bladder-cancer links.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the incidence of bladder cancer increases with age. People over age 70 develop the disease two to three times more often than the younger population. In 2012, about 56,000 men and 18,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with this cancer.

Recently, researchers also found that patients taking the type-2 diabetes drug Actos (pioglitazone) for more than a year have a 40 percent increased risk of bladder cancer over those taking other diabetes medications.

Actos and Bladder Cancer

The connection between the diabetes drug and bladder cancer came following the five-year analysis of a 10-year study completed by the drug manufacturer, Takeda Pharmaceuticals. The results show that there is an increased risk among those taking the drug the longest.

Since that study, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it has not decided that Actos increases the risk of bladder cancer. Instead, it has launched an ongoing safety review of the drug. FDA scientists are urging Actos patients to continue taking the drug unless otherwise informed by their doctors.

Other studies have also shown a connection between Actos and bladder cancer. Drug regulators in France and Germany pulled Actos from the shelves following a French study that suggested a link between the drug and bladder cancer. Still, many U.S. physicians are heeding with caution. One doctor said the well-known risk of letting blood sugar remain high is far worse than the theoretic risk of bladder cancer. In addition, there are a host of other environmental factors that can cause bladder cancer.

Other Bladder Cancer Causes

  • Smoking: Bladder cancer is twice as likely to develop in smokers than non-smokers. Experts say that smoking causes about half the bladder cancer cases in men and about one-fourth in women.
  • Occupational chemical exposure: About one in four bladder cancer cases are caused by being exposed to carcinogens at work. Those who work with dyes, rubbers, leathers and pesticides are most at risk.
  • Bladder infections: Chronic bladder infections can lead to bladder cancer.
  • Diet: A diet high in saturated fat is known to cause bladder cancer. Reversely, those who drink a lot of water significantly reduce bladder cancer risks.

Bladder Cancer Risk Factors

A risk factor doesn't automatically mean that one thing causes the other. Instead, it implies that there are certain factors that could suggest a correlation. Many people who have bladder cancer risk factors never get the disease. Often, lifestyle changes can lower your risk.

  • Age: The older population (age 70 and over) are more at risk for bladder cancer
  • Gender: Men are more at risk than women.
  • Bladder birth defects: A rare birth defect may increase the risk.
  • Family history: Those who have a genetic predisposition to bladder cancer are at greater risk.
  • Personal history of cancer treatment: High doses of chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatment are known to irritate the bladder and increase the cancer risk.
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