Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer ranks as the fourth most common cancer and the seventh leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the United States. Among women, it is the eighth leading cause of cancer and the tenth leading cause of cancer deaths.

Bladder cancer was one of the earliest cancers in which carcinogens (cancer causing agents) were found to play a role. As early as 1895, there was a high incidence of bladder cancer among workers in certain dye industries. There are numerous occupations that have been identified as having bladder cancer risks. Recent studies have estimated that up to 25% of bladder cancers have occupational causes.

Most of the proven bladder carcinogens are chemicals known as aromatic amines, which may be inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin. It is believed that bladder cancer is caused by contact of the bladder with these agents in the urine. At the gaseous diffusion plants, some workers were exposed to 4, 4 Methylene Dianiline (MDA), which is a type of aromatic amine. Most of the MDA manufactured in the United States is used to produce rigid polyurethane foams. Additionally, MDA is used for a variety of other purposes, most notably as an epoxy resin hardener.

There are no definitive signs or symptoms of bladder cancer. However, if signs do appear, the most common sign is the occurrence of blood in the urine.  Less common symptoms include pain or burning upon urination but these symptoms occur much more frequently in other conditions, such as urinary tract infections.  There are some laboratory tests that have been proposed as a screening tool, but the effectiveness of these tests in the detection of bladder cancer has so far been limited. However, a physician can help identify some of the symptoms of bladder cancer. The physician can then advise you on how to reduce your health risks and refer you for additional testing if necessary.

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