Smoking Increases Bladder Cancer Risk

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Smoking increases your risk of bladder cancer more than 400 percent over that of non-smokers.

"Even cigars and chewing tobacco can increase the risk because the carcinogens are excreted in the urine regardless of how they enter the body," says Dr. Yair Lotan, Assistant Professor of Urology at University of Texas in Dallas.

Bladder cancer may develop years after people stop smoking because of cumulative effects on the bladder lining. Other risk factors include environmental and occupational exposures such as aniline dyes; combustion gases; and soot from coal, petroleum by-products, and chemical dyes used in the rubber and textile industries.

Bladder cancer is the fourth most prevalent cancer in men and the ninth most common cancer in women Most patients are in their 50's or older. Unfortunately, people do not experience symptoms until relatively late in the course. The most common complaint is blood in the urine, which is usually painless.

Even when patients seek prompt evaluation, up to 25 percent of cancers are detected at a late stage, resulting in a significantly higher risk of death. Early detection is crucial to survival.

Any sign of blood in the urine should result in a prompt evaluation to reduce the risk of overlooking cancer, Dr. Lotan advises.

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