The end of military service doesn’t always mean the end of hardships for those who served. As they age, many veterans can be faced with health challenges, including cancer. In fact, each year, approximately 40,000 new
cancer cases in veterans are reported, and bladder cancer is among the top five most frequently diagnosed types of cancer among patients treated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It’s important for veterans to take note of their individual risk factors and learn what to do if bladder cancer is detected.
Risk of Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer can happen to anyone, but there are some factors that make a person more likely to develop and be diagnosed with it. For example, the risk of bladder cancer increases with age and is more likely diagnosed in patients over the age of 55.
Other risk factors include:
• Exposure to certain chemicals
• History of bladder infections or irritation
• Family history of bladder cancer
• And for Vietnam veterans, the VA has added exposure to Agent Orange to that list
Signs of Bladder Cancer
Understanding an individual’s potential risk, as well as the signs and symptoms of bladder cancer is essential, as early detection can expand treatment options and improve outcomes. The most common sign of bladder cancer is painless-but-visible blood in the urine. However, other signs to watch for include:
• Pain during urination
• Changes in the frequency or ability to urinate
• Lower back pain on one side of the body
Detecting Bladder Cancer
A cystoscopy is a standard medical procedure that allows a urologist to look directly into the bladder for suspicious tissue. Historically, cystoscopies have been done using white light. However, there is also a procedure called Blue Light Cystoscopy that uses both white and blue light to create an enhanced view. Veterans and others who suspect that they may have bladder cancer should ask a urologist for more information on Blue Light Cystoscopy. To learn more, visit https://rebrand.ly/About-Cystoscopy.
Anyone who has a potential risk factor for bladder cancer needs to be informed about the disease, as well as their options during and after diagnosis. That information, plus access to the right care, can equip everyone for their cancer battle.