Women and Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer has long been considered a disease of older men. Though it is more prevalent in men, studies have shown that women are more likely to present more advanced tumors and have a worse prognosis than men at almost every stage of the disease. According to a report published by the National Cancer Institute, the survival rate for women with bladder cancer lags behind that of men at all stages of the disease. African-American women, particularly have poor outcomes when diagnosed with bladder cancer. They present with the highest proportion of advanced and aggressive tumors when compared to African-American men and Caucasian men and women. In addition, the number of women diagnosed with bladder cancer has been increasing.
BCAN applauds Keith Richards’ wife, Patti Hansen, for sharing her story of facing bladder cancer in the August 2010 issue of Vogue Magazine. Bladder cancer is the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, and probably the least talked about. On behalf of the over 600,000 Americans living with this disease, BCAN commends Ms. Hansen for her bravery in openly telling her story of living with bladder cancer. It is wonderful that she is able to show that a bladder cancer survivor can maintain her active life and her radiant beauty.
It is important for women to understand their risks for bladder cancer and know what to ask their doctors.
Awareness is the key: in most cases, bladder cancer is treatable, but prompt diagnosis is critical.
Why the disparity?
In many cases, there are significant delays in diagnosing bladder cancer in women. Many women ignore the most basic symptom—blood in the urine—which they may associate with menstruation or menopause and delay reporting this symptom to their doctors. Even after reporting the problem to their doctors, blood in the urine may be initially misdiagnosed as a symptom as post-menopausal bleeding, simple cystitis or as a urinary tract infection. As a result, a bladder cancer diagnosis can be overlooked for a year or more.
What do women need to know?
• Bladder cancer can affect women at any age.
What can you do?
The most important thing for you is to know the signs and symptoms of bladder cancer and report them to your physician immediately. The most common sign—blood in the urine—can be visible (though it may sometimes appear dark brown or orange) but could also only be detected under a microscopic examination. It is important to visit your doctor for routine examinations. Most bleeding associated with bladder cancer is painless, however, about 30 percent of bladder cancer patients experience burning, frequent urination or a sensation of incomplete emptying when they urinate.
If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.
The good news is that in most cases, if caught early, bladder cancer is a manageable disease. There are tens of thousands of women bladder cancer survivors living today.
Here are some of their stories (Click on the name to read the story):
The information and services provides by the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) are for informational purposes only. The information and services are not intended to be substitutes for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are ill, or suspect that you are ill, seek professional medical attention immediately! BCAN does not recommend or endorse any specific physicians, treatments, procedures or products even though they may be mentioned on this site
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