Bladder cancer ranks as the fourth most common
cancer and the seventh leading cause of cancer deaths among men
in the United States. Among women, it is the eighth leading cause
of cancer and the tenth leading cause of cancer deaths.
Bladder cancer was one of the earliest cancers in which carcinogens (cancer causing
agents) were found to play a role. As early as 1895, there was a high incidence
of bladder cancer among workers in certain dye industries. There are numerous
occupations that have been identified as having bladder cancer risks. Recent
studies have estimated that up to 25% of bladder cancers have occupational causes.
Most of the proven bladder carcinogens are chemicals known as aromatic amines,
which may be inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin. It is believed that
bladder cancer is caused by contact of the bladder with these agents in the urine.
At the gaseous diffusion plants, some workers were exposed to 4, 4 Methylene
Dianiline (MDA), which is a type of aromatic amine. Most of the MDA manufactured
in the United States is used to produce rigid polyurethane foams. Additionally,
MDA is used for a variety of other purposes, most notably as an epoxy resin hardener.
There are no definitive signs or symptoms of bladder cancer. However, if signs
do appear, the most common sign is the occurrence of blood in the urine. Less
common symptoms include pain or burning upon urination but these symptoms occur
much more frequently in other conditions, such as urinary tract infections. There
are some laboratory tests that have been proposed as a screening tool, but the
effectiveness of these tests in the detection of bladder cancer has so far been
limited. However, a physician can help identify some of the symptoms of bladder cancer. The physician can then advise you on how to reduce your health
risks and refer you for additional testing if necessary.