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For a small state, we have a big problem! Rhode Island has the highest bladder cancer rate per capita in the country. The disease is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States and has the highest recurrence rate of any form of cancer. It’s the fifth most common cancer in Rhode Island.
Since 1950, the rate of bladder cancer has increased by 50 percent in the U.S. In 2017, it is estimated that 77,000 new cases of bladder cancer will be diagnosed in the country and, of those, 16,000 people will die of the disease. It is estimated that between 350 to 400 new cases of bladder cancer will be diagnosed in RI each year.
The most common sign – and often the only sign -- of bladder cancer is blood in the urine, referred to as hematuria. In fact, 83 percent of patients with bladder cancer have visible blood in their urine while only 17 percent will have microscopic hematuria, meaning blood in the urine that is only visible under a microscope. The blood may be dark red, light red or pink, and may come and go. Women often mistake this as menstruation.
If blood in the urine is seen, your health care provider should be contacted for appropriate evaluation. The provider may order a urinalysis (UA), blood test, imaging or a cystoscopy.
Less common signs and symptoms may include increased frequency or urgency of urination, night sweats, flank pain, heat or cold intolerance, weight loss, decreased appetite, bone pain, pelvic pain or pain while urinating.
There are a few risk factors that may increase your risk for bladder cancer.
If you are diagnosed with bladder cancer, many treatments are available. Like other cancers, early detection is key.