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Pay Attention to Bladder Cancer's Warning Signs

Blood in urine is one telltale marker, experts say

SUNDAY, July 24, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- People need to pay attention to the early warning signs of bladder cancer and get prompt medical help, says a University of Michigan Health System bladder cancer expert.

"It's very important for patients to pay attention to the symptoms that they may experience. For example, if someone has blood in the urine, they may have a tendency to dismiss that or ignore that. I cannot emphasize enough that it is very important for patients with that symptom to be evaluated by a physician," Dr. Cheryl Lee, director of the bladder cancer program at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center and assistant professor of urology at the U-M Medical School, said in a prepared statement.

Along with blood in the urine, other symptoms of bladder cancer include: urgency to urinate; frequent urination in small amounts; back or abdominal pain; painful urination; loss of appetite or weight.

Tests to diagnose bladder cancer include: checking urine samples for cancer cells; X-rays of the kidney and urinary system, including the bladder; and cystoscopy, in which a small flexible tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the bladder.

Bladder cancer strikes men three times more often than women. Treatment for bladder cancer is most successful in the early stages, when the tumor is smaller and on the surface of the bladder.

"If a patient unfortunately has had a delay in diagnosis, or has not responded to some of the signs such as blood in the urine, the tumor has the opportunity to grow, to invade the wall of the bladder and even to extend beyond the bladder, or metastasize, to other organs. In that scenario, we're looking at much more aggressive and radical treatment plans," Lee said.

This year, about 63,000 Americans will develop bladder cancer, which kills about 13,000 people in the United States each year, the university said.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about bladder cancer.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, June 2005
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