Bladder cancer is not a cancer that first comes to the mind of many people, and that is why July is designated Bladder Cancer Awareness Month to raise the profile of this cancer. During July, events publicize facts about bladder cancer. These events include physicians and hospitals issuing articles about the disease and speaking about it on radio and TV broadcasts. Fundraising for bladder-cancer research may also be on the list of events.
Each year about 75,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease. It is of three types. The most common type is transitional cell carcinoma in which cancer cells begin in the deepest cell layer of the tissue lining the bladder. A less common type is squamous cell carcinoma, which occurs first as a reaction to an infection or irritation and later develops into cancer. In adenocarcinoma, the cancer presents itself in the mucous-producing glands of the lining of the bladder.
An early sign of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. If detected early, about 80 percent of the affected population responds well to treatment by urologists, the specialists who treat the disease. Treatments for cancer detected early include (1) removal of the tumor without an incision, achieved by burning the tumor with heat or using a laser on it or (2) giving the patient a vaccine, a treatment that is called immunotherapy. However, urologists may treat people with more advanced cancers by removing their bladder or treating the tumor with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.
People at higher risk for bladder cancer are:
Scientists are working on treatments for bladder cancer that include new drugs and identifying the genes that cause the disease. People interested in heightening awareness of bladder cancer sometimes use—by wearing and selling—ribbons of marigold, blue and purple to make the disease stand out among cancers and as a tool to raise funds for research.