December 20, 2013 - 10:09am
My brother in law passed away this week after suffering a two year battle with bladder cancer. These past few months of his life were painful and he experienced many setbacks from treatments that tried to manage his disease while his body was unresponsive and shutting down.
When he was diagnosed, I had no real idea of what cancer of the bladder was, let alone what the symptoms and risk factors were. Seeking information about this disease online was tough as each patient experience is unique and the disease is not one size fits all and some of the information was frightening to read.
Bladder cancer interestingly is a disease where smoking is a significant risk factor.
Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 harmful ingredients, many of which are known to cause cancer. And, nearly 75 percent of bladder cancer patients are unaware that smoking is a serious risk factor for getting the disease.
I know I did not know this, despite not being a patient.
According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2010, it was estimated that over 70,000 new cases of bladder cancer will be diagnosed and nearly 15,000 people will die from this disease.
These were scary odds, and based on this, I felt there was hope but also fear of what my brother-in-law's experience with this disease might be like and worries about his future would hold.
The harmful toxins found in tobacco get absorbed from the lungs into the blood, which then flows through the kidneys where these chemicals are separated out and placed in the urine for removal from the body. In the urine, for example, these contagions damage the inside of the bladder, leading to the increased risk of bladder cancer.
If you are a smoker, please stop.
While a smoking history could impact one’s risk for developing bladder cancer, the good news is that if a person stops smoking his or her risk for this life-threatening disease can drop by 40 percent in the first four years without taking a puff.
Bladder cancer is most treatable when it is caught early. The most common symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. If you experience this symptom and are currently are a smoker, please, I implore you, and in memory of my brother-in-law, please seek medical attention to address this disease early.