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This bladder cancer symptom is overlooked by many

Swelling in the legs may indicate serious health problems, such as cancer in the bladder.

Awareness of some rather unusual symptoms of the disease remains low [Shutterstock]

Cancer is becoming more and more common and, fortunately, we are getting better at fighting it.

Unfortunately, awareness of some rather unusual symptoms of the disease remains low. We visit the doctor too rarely and ignore the signals sent by the body.

Swelling in the legs may indicate serious health problems, such as cancer in the bladder, especially when accompanied by other symptoms.

  • May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. Appropriate prevention can protect against disease.
  • Men over 45 years of age are most often affected, although women are also affected by this cancer.
  • Bladder cancer detected and treated early has a good prognosis. Time is of the essence.
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More than half of patients diagnosed with bladder cancer will never recover. Reason? As always in the case of cancer, we report disturbing symptoms to a doctor too late.

Men are more often affected, although women are also affected by this cancer.

Cancerous lesions most often occur on the inner lining of the bladder, the epithelium.

This type of cancer, i.e. epithelial bladder cancer, develops very slowly. If we do proper check-ups and take good care of our health, the prognosis may be very favourable.

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This disease mainly affects seniors and smokers. According to the NHS, more than a third of all bladder cancer cases are caused by smoking, making tobacco the most common risk factor for this type of cancer.

The risk of developing bladder cancer in smokers is four times higher than in non-smokers. Depending on the stage of the disease, invasive or non-invasive cancer occurs. Its aggressive form can spread to deeper tissues, including muscles.

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Although bladder cancer may not cause specific symptoms for a long time, in its advanced stage it may present surprising symptoms. In addition to the problems that are quickly associated with cancer, unusual symptoms appear when urinating. This symptom of bladder cancer can be seen in the legs.

According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the most common symptoms of bladder cancer is hematuria. There is also a strong need to urinate frequently or pain and burning when visiting the toilet. However, not all symptoms are so obvious.

If you have advanced bladder cancer, you may experience symptoms such as pelvic or bone pain, leg swelling, or unexpected weight loss.

Remember that all these symptoms may be related to other diseases, but they should never be underestimated. It is the swelling of the legs that is often ignored till very late and is associated with epithelial bladder cancer.

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"Let's not underestimate hematuria, even if it has passed! The appearance of blood in urine is an alarm signal that cannot be ignored, and thorough oncological diagnostics should always be performed in such a case," appeals Prof. PhD n. med. Tomasz Drewa, President of the Polish Urological Society in an interview with Tropic of Cancer.

Bladder cancer develops mainly in older people. The largest group of patients are people over 75 years of age. However, there are risk factors that significantly increase the risk of developing the disease.

The most important of them are smoking tobacco and tobacco products.

Other risk factors for bladder cancer include:

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  • radiotherapy or chemotherapy,
  • type 2 diabetes,
  • chronic catheterisation (e.g. in immobilised patients),
  • long-term or regular urinary tract infections (UTIs),
  • urinary tract stones,
  • untreated schistosomiasis infection (bilharzia).

If you suspect that you or a loved one has developed cancer, always inform your family doctor about your symptoms and concerns. In the case of any cancer, time is of the essence. The earlier the diagnosis is made, the better the prognosis.

Hematuria is always a serious symptom, regardless of age or other risk factors. Don't ignore suspicious signals your body is sending. Also, remember to go for regular check-ups.

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This article was originally published by Onet.

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