May is National Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. Many diseases have months or weeks that are dedicated each year to draw awareness to them. When these diseases are highlighted for a certain length of time, it is not to celebrate the disease or those who have had it, but instead to draw awareness to the disease so that others can learn about, prevent it, or diagnose it before it becomes worse. That’s where having caring individuals like yourself and a home care provider, can help spark the conversation about bladder cancer when and if it is needed.
Bladder cancer affects more than 72,000 patients in the United States alone, and while that may seem like a big number, many of those affected feel alone in their situation or wish they had known more about the disease before they became one of those patients.
Early diagnosis and prevention are the keys to reducing the risks that come with bladder cancer. If you have an elderly loved one that you care for, he may notice some of these symptoms but may not always talk about them.
Bladder Cancer Symptoms
Frequent urination. While many elderly people do need to use the bathroom more often, if you or your home care provider notice that your loved one is having to run to the bathroom more often, it could be a symptom of bladder cancer. You might notice that he needs to get to the bathroom much more urgently than before. Your loved one may not even notice that he’s making more bathroom visits, so talking about it is the first step.
Pain while urinating. While pain may simply be a sign of a bladder infection if your loved one complains to either you or his home care provider about discomfort while urinating, an appointment with his physician should be made so that the cause of the pain can be determined quickly.
Inability to urinate. If your loved one runs to the bathroom because he feels an urgent need to urinate but then can’t once he gets there, it’s not only frustrating but also a possible symptom of bladder cancer or an infection.
He sees blood in his urine. It’s never good to see blood in the urine and it is the most common sign of bladder cancer so it shouldn’t be ignored. The blood can be bright red or a deeper reddish-brown like cola.
While reducing the risks of developing bladder cancer is small, there are a few steps your loved one can take to reduce his risk, especially if cancer runs in the family.
- Don’t smoke. If your loved one does smoke, helping him find a good quitting plan will improve his health now and in the future.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants which can lower the risks of developing many cancers.
- Avoid exposure to chemicals.
When caught in its early stages, bladder cancer is easily treated. Knowing the symptoms and signs are the best first step to detection.