Bladder cancer is a common form of cancer that begins in the cells of the bladder. Depending on the severity, there are many ways to treat it.

Smoking is the most prominent risk factor for bladder cancer, and quitting smoking can reduce your chances of developing bladder cancer over time.

Smoking can increase your chances of developing bladder cancer by three times, when compared with people who do not smoke.

There are several harmful chemicals in cigarettes that can have an impact on the health of your bladder. When you smoke, the chemicals you inhale are held in your bladder until you urinate. This exposes the bladder to harmful substances for long lengths of time.

Smoking traditional or electronic cigarettes makes you more vulnerable to bladder cancer. Being exposed to secondhand smoke can also increase your risk.

If you smoke more frequently or have smoked for a longer period of time, you may be even more susceptible to bladder cancer.

Quitting smoking for 10 years can make you 25 percent less likely to develop bladder cancer, and the risk continues to drop in subsequent years of not smoking.

Smoking can make it more difficult for your body to fight cancer and respond to treatment. The chemicals in cigarettes may weaken your immune system, making it hard for your body to fight off cancer cells. These chemicals can also alter your DNA and make it difficult to stop cancer cells from growing.

Compared with someone who’s never smoked, you’re still more susceptible to bladder cancer 30 years after quitting. Since reducing smoking after a cancer diagnosis can potentially extend your life, it’s never too late to quit smoking.

There are other risk factors for bladder cancer, including:

  • advanced age (Most people who are diagnosed with bladder cancer are older than 55.)
  • race (Those of Caucasian descent are more likely to get it than other races.)
  • gender (Men are more likely to get it than women.)
  • family history
  • underlying health issues related to your bladder
  • exposure to certain chemicals in your environment, including at work and in your water
  • an unbalanced diet
  • lack of water consumption
  • medication use
  • radiation or chemotherapy in your pelvic area

You will need a doctor to diagnose bladder cancer. Reach out for an appointment if you:

  • experience pain when you urinate
  • observe blood in your urine
  • need to urinate frequently
  • have lower back pain

To diagnose bladder cancer, a doctor may:

  • ask about signs and symptoms
  • discuss your health history and family health history
  • perform a physical exam that examines your bladder
  • take laboratory tests
  • conduct a test that looks at your bladder through your urethra
  • order imaging tests to see your bladder and surrounding body
  • perform a biopsy that takes cells from your bladder to examine under a microscope

Quitting smoking will reduce your risk of developing bladder cancer, in addition to improving your overall health and well-being.

While it can be challenging to quit smoking, there are many methods you can try. Finding the method that works best for your lifestyle is key.

Here are some methods to quit smoking:

  • Make a plan for quitting, and select a day to quit.
  • Find resources that work for you to quit smoking.
  • Use medications to help you quit, such as prescription and over-the-counter options.
  • Talk with a counselor or find a support group to help guide you through the quitting process.
  • Track your progress on a smartphone app.
  • Develop new habits or routines that you do not associate with smoking.
  • Identify ways to work through cravings, including:
    • finding items to replace the action of smoking, like sucking on lollipops or chewing gum
    • permitting yourself to have bad days
    • caring for your body with exercise, enough sleep, and a balanced diet

Bladder cancer treatment varies by stages that range from 0 to IV. The stage reflects how much cancer you have and where it is in your body. Earlier stages of bladder cancer detect abnormal cells in your bladder. Later stages show the spread of cancer to other parts of your body.

Overall, bladder cancer has a 5-year survival rate of 77 percent. Earlier stages have a 5-year survival rate of 96 percent.

Treatment options for bladder cancer include:

  • minimally invasive to more extensive surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • immunotherapy
  • radiation
  • targeted therapy

Your doctor may recommend one or more treatment options, depending on your diagnosis. The amount of treatment you get varies.

Surgery for early stages of bladder cancer may involve removing the cancer cells themselves. Surgery for later stages could include removal of the bladder and reconstructive surgery so you can pass urine through your body.

One way to reduce your risk for bladder cancer is to quit smoking. The chemicals in cigarettes can be toxic to your bladder and cause cancerous cells to form.

Quitting for a decade or longer reduces your risk for bladder cancer significantly. There are many different ways to quit smoking, and you should determine the best method for you.

See your doctor right away if you have any signs or symptoms of bladder cancer. There are many ways to treat it.