Diet for bladder cancer patients – Eating a healthy diet and being physically active can significantly reduce your risk of developing bladder cancer.
Bladder cancer is an uncontrolled abnormal growth and multiplication of cells in the urinary bladder which have broken free from the normal control mechanisms of the body. Bladder cancer (like cancers of the other organs) has the ability to spread (metastasize) to other body parts including the lungs, bones, and liver.
Bladder cancer invariably starts from the innermost layer of the bladder (for example, the mucosa) and may invade into the deeper layers as it grows. Alternately, it may remain confined to the mucosa for a prolonged period of time. Visually, it may appear in various forms. Most common is a shrub-like appearance (papillary) but it may also appear as a nodule, an irregular solid growth or a flat, barely perceptible thickening of the inner bladder wall.
Symptoms of bladder cancer
The most common symptom of bladder cancer is bleeding in the urine (hematuria). Most often the bleeding is “gross” (visible to the naked eye), episodic (occurs in episodes), and is not associated with pain (painless hematuria). However, sometimes the bleeding may only be visible under a microscope (microscopic hematuria) or may be associated with pain due to the blockage of urine by the formation of blood clots.
There may be no symptoms or bleeding for prolonged periods of time between episodes, lulling the patient into a false sense of security (“I don’t know what the problem was, but it is fine now”). Some types of blood cancer may cause irritative symptoms of the bladder with little or no bleeding.
The patient may have the desire to urinate small amounts in short intervals (frequency), inability to hold the urine for any length of time after the initial desire to void (urgency), or burning sensation while passing urine (dysuria). These symptoms occur more commonly in patients with high-grade flat urothelial cancers called “carcinoma in situ” or “CIS”.
Rarely, patients may present with signs and symptoms of the more advanced disease such as distended bladder (due to obstruction by a tumour at the bladder neck), pain in the flanks (due to obstruction of urine flow from the kidney to the bladder by the growing tumour mass in the bladder), bone pains, or cough blood in the phlegm (due to spread to cancer cells to bones or lungs).
Causes of bladder cancer
- The most common type of bladder cancer, urothelial carcinoma, is very strongly associated with cigarette smoking. About 50% of all bladder cancers in men and 30% in women may be caused by cigarette smoking. The longer and heavier the exposure, greater are the chances of developing bladder cancer. The toxic chemical in cigarette smoke, many of which are known cancer-causing substances (carcinogens), travel in the bloodstream after being absorbed from the lungs and get filtered into the urine by the kidneys. They then come in contact with the cells in the inner lining of the urinary system, including the bladder and cause changes within these cells which make them more prone to developing into cancer cells.
- Age and family history are other risk factors as is male sex. Most bladder cancer is diagnosed in people over 60 years though in exceptional cases it may be seen in the third or fourth decade of life. A close relative with a history of bladder cancer may increase the predisposition for the development of this disease.
- Exposure to toxic chemicals such as arsenic, phenols, aniline dyes, and arylamines increase the risk of bladder cancer and may be responsible for up to 25% of cases in some regions. Dye workers, rubber workers, aluminium workers, leather workers, truck drivers, and pesticide applicators are at the higher risk.
- Radiation therapy (such as that for prostate or cervical cancer) and chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) has been shown to increase the risk for development of bladder cancer. Moreover, it may also delay the diagnosis of bladder cancer in patients presenting with symptoms of bleeding in urine since the bleeding may be incorrectly attributed by patient and/or the physician to the bladder irritation caused by the chemotherapy or radiation (radiation cystitis).
- Long-term chronic infections of the bladder, irritation due to stones or foreign bodies, and infections with the blood fluke prevalent in certain regions of the world as some other factors which predispose to bladder cancer.
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Diet for bladder cancer patients
Foods to eat
- Eat at least five portions of varieties of fruits and vegetables a day. Avoid citric fruits and drinks.
- Base your starchy carbohydrate foods on whole grains such as wheat bread, brown rice, or potatoes with the skins.
- Choose lean protein such as fish, boiled egg, beans and pulses.
Foods to avoid
- Citric foods and drinks
- Meat products
- Coffee and tea
- Artificial sweeteners and preservative
While this diet keeps you healthy, it does not stop the need to see your doctor or health-care provider