Why Bladder Cancer is More Than Just a Smoker’s Disease
Bladder cancer is not as common in India as it is in Western countries, however, it is still essential for individuals to beware of the risk factors that go beyond smoking. Many lesser-known risk factors are often overseen or ignored regarding bladder cancer. Here are some of them that one should be mindful of.
- Chemicals and our exposure to them: When exposed to chemicals such as benzene, arsenic, and aromatic amines, either via the workplace or the environment, there can be an increased risk of bladder cancer. It mostly happens when one is exposed directly or indirectly, primarily if one works in an industry with exposure to these chemicals. In this situation, individuals must take proper precautions by following safety protocols and wearing protective uniforms or gear.
- The Age factor: This type of cancer is mainly seen in adults over 55 years of age, with men most prone to the illness compared to women of the same age. Though there is no way to prevent ageing, one can get yearly check-ups to be on the safer side. Through these check-ups, one will also be educated about the risk factors.
- Chronic Bladder Infections: Frequent bladder infections with symptoms such as blood in your urine or pain during urination. These symptoms are common for chronic bladder infections or inflammation and can increase the risk of developing bladder cancer.
- Family History: Genetic factors can also come into play and increase the risk of developing the disease. If one has a history in their family tree of bladder cancer, it is crucial to reveal the information. It is recommended that genetic testing be done to rule out any possibilities.
- Radiation Therapy: Though this factor doesn’t apply to everybody, if one has been exposed to any form of radiation in the past, especially in the pelvic region, it is essential to get consistent check-ups. It is also important to keep your doctor aware of radiation exposure, as this can also be a factor.
How to reduce your risk?
While some risk factors for bladder cancer cannot be changed, there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk. Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of bladder cancer. If you work in an industry exposed to chemicals, take proper safety precautions, and follow safety protocols. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine can also help reduce your risk of bladder cancer and other types of cancer.
Risk factors cannot be changed, but one can reduce the risk of being exposed to them. As they say, prevention is better than cure, and the best way to stay safe is to be wary of the above-listed risk factors. Apart from being self-aware, it is also best to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle with a good mix of exercise. This will not only help with a reduced risk of bladder cancer but also helps in preventing other cancers from developing. The best way to stay safe is to keep yourself first, consider yourself a priority and get regularly screened.
By – Dr G Vasu Babu, Consultant – Medical Oncologist, HCG Cancer Centre, Vijayawada