Most doctors must have heard the "nanny tale" about a surgeon in Dublin who apparently used to pray, "Lord, please don't take me through the bladder!"
Whether it is a true story or not, is immaterial. The surgeon in the story was perhaps simply highlighting the unpleasant consequences of urinary symptoms and not specifically referring to bladder cancer.
Cancer of the urinary bladder is the 4th commonest cancer in men and the 7th most common cancer, over all, in the UK. There are more than 10000 cases diagnosed every year.( http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/types/bladder/incidence/) As in other conditions, early diagnosis is the key to best prognosis and survival rates.
What are the risk factors?
How many people in our society know that smokers are almost 4 times more likely to get bladder cancer than non-smokers? It is estimated that 37% of all bladder cancer in the UK is due to smoking.( http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/types/bladder/riskfactors/#tobacco) Smoking is usually associated with lung cancer and heart disease but very few people are aware that it causes bladder cancer. The above web site gives you a comprehensive list of other possible risk factors.
What are the symptoms?
Seeing blood in urine is the most common symptom. 80% of people with bladder cancer have blood in their urine. (http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/type/bladder-cancer/about/bladder-cancer-symptoms) In some people blood is found only on testing urine with a strip at the local GP surgery or in the Accident and Emergency Department. Most often, there is no pain when passing urine even if blood is seen. There are also other possible symptoms like wanting to pass urine more often than normal and wanting to get to the toilet urgently to avoid any urge leakage.
What if you have the symptoms?
If you see red coloured urine when you pee, don't assume that it was the beetroot you had eaten few days ago which caused it. Get an urgent appointment with your GP. Also, if you have symptoms of frequency and urgency to pass urine which you didn't have previously and you have been a smoker, you need to report it to your doctor as soon as possible.
The purpose of this blog is simply to raise awareness of bladder cancer and its strong association with smoking.