Health Team

Smoking could lead to bladder cancer

Posted July 29, 2010

— Julian Jessups, 69, grew up in eastern North Carolina in a tobacco economy.

“And matter of fact, tobacco sent me to school,” he said.

It might also be what led to his bladder cancer, even though he'd quit smoking for five years when he noticed the first symptom – blood in his urine.

WakeMed urologist Dr. Sam Chawla says bladder cancer is one of the lesser known risks of smoking, but the same carcinogens that affect the lungs and cardiovascular system also flow into the bladder.

“They sit for three or four hours until you void. And all the while, they can affect the lining of the bladder and the kidneys and result in transitional cell carcinoma,” Chawla said.

Jessups’ early stage cancer was a more easily treated superficial form of the disease.

“We can usually scrape the cancer away without making any deep cuts in the skin,” Chawla said.

But the superficial form has a 50 percent recurrence rate.

Bladder cancer a risk for smokers Bladder cancer a risk for smokers

First, Jessups had three tumors removed.

“Three months later, I had six additional tumors in six different locations,” he said. “So, it grows very fast.”

Invasive or deep forms of bladder cancer typically involve removing the bladder.

Jessups goes for regular checkups to make sure his cancer stays gone. For the past year, he has been cancer-free.

“Hopefully we’re heading in the right direction,” he said.

A smoker’s risk of bladder cancer drops by about 40 percent within the first four years after quitting. The risk of all other cancers and cardiovascular disease drops dramatically as well.

Once diagnosed with bladder cancer, quitting smoking reduces a person’s risk of recurrence.


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  • LMRA Aug 5, 2010

    My Dad has been battling bladder cancer for several years. Yes he smoked for probably 35 years. So did my grandparents and most of my parent's friends. Makes me wonder if I'll be like Objective Scientist and end up with it too???

  • luv2surffish2 Jul 30, 2010

    i had this in 1996.. had tumor removed but dr stated and i saw way back then the primary cause was smoking.. so i continued til 2007 to smoke.. chantix works but side affects stay around for a good while after you stop

  • Objective Scientist Jul 30, 2010

    Never directly used ANY tobacco product: NO cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, or snuff/smokeless tobacco, etc. NEVER used tobacco, NEVER "tried" or "experimented" with ANY tobacco product (busy playing sports - trying to constantly improve my conditioning, never developed any "curiosity" about it, resisted "peer pressure" to try it, etc.) However, for the first ~18 years of my life the air I breathed at home was constantly filled with the bluish haze of "second-hand" smoke. Both parents smoked as well as uncles, aunts, cousins, neighbors, family friends, etc. Recall watching football games on Sundays with my Dad and friends - hardly able to see the TV screen for the smoke. Dad quit when I was 9 or 10 - my mother remained a "chain-smoker" until her death - lung cancer. Five years ago I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. My Urologist repeatedly asked "Do you smoke, have you ever smoked?" - seemed to "not believe" my answer "NO, NEVER"! Second-hand is JUST AS BAD! STOP SMOKING!!

  • awr117 Jul 30, 2010

    I moved on to electronic cigarettes. No longer dealing with all those chemicals that are packed in cigarettes. It is much cleaner, cheaper as well and i can vape on them in public places since there is no second hand harm.

  • nskenn Jul 29, 2010

    Yes it does and take my word for it it is not any fun so throw away the smokes like I did 5 years ago and start living again.