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Exposure to PFAS Has Been Shown to Significantly Increase the Risk for Bladder Cancer

By Treven Pyles

Posted on December 04th, 2019

In humans, the post-exposure effects of PFAS could be related to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and different cancer types. Because so many people are now exposed to PFAS, it is critical to understand how these chemicals may be contributing to so many serious health issues, including bladder cancer.

Bladder cancer, the fourth most common cancer in men, is expected to affect about 80,470 new U.S. patients in 2019, according to the American Cancer Society's most recent estimates. Many risk factors make a person more likely to develop bladder cancer, including age, gender, and genetics. Based on a growing body of research, exposure to harmful chemicals can also put people at risk for bladder cancer. Bladder cancer continues to be very complicated and difficult to predict. However, knowing and understanding the factors that put you at risk allows you to take precautions and protect your health.

PFAS, the Cancer-Causing Chemicals, Detectable in Human Urine

The most investigated man-made chemicals in the group of per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFCs) and the most prevalent emerging contaminants include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). The substances are known as "persistent organic pollutants" or "forever chemicals" because they are persistent and accumulative. PFAS can be found in blood, and at much lower levels in breast milk and in umbilical cord blood. Short-chain PFAS can be also detected in human urine.

PFAS, the synthetically produced chemicals can enter ecosystems and move up food chains, accumulating in animal and human tissue. The main role of the kidneys is to filter harmful chemicals from the bloodstream and moving them into the bladder. When people ingest PFAS by eating or drinking food or water that contains fluorinated substances, these chemicals pass into their bloodstream and are filtered by the kidneys into their urine. The bladder is repeatedly exposed to these hazardous substances, as it acts as a store for urine. This can cause changes to the cells in bladder tissue, which can ultimately lead to bladder cancer.

At the moment, there are no reliable screening programs available for the early detection of bladder cancer. The diagnostic is usually made based on clinical signs and patient-reported symptoms. The early stages of bladder cancer cause painless blood in the urine. Other symptoms are often a signal of more advanced disease, such as flank pain caused by ureteral obstruction, an inability to urinate, lower back pain on one side of the body, loss of appetite, overwhelming fatigue, swelling in the feet, and bone pain.

If bladder cancer is suspected, a physician will recommend appropriate diagnostic testing, which may include imaging, urine cytology, a cystoscopy or a biopsy. Cystoscopy remains the mainstay of diagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer, allowing for direct access to a tumor for biopsy and/or resection. If bladder cancer is diagnosed, a radical cystectomy may be the optimal treatment for aggressive or recurrent disease.

If You Have Been Diagnosed with Bladder Cancer You May Be Entitled to Benefits

If you have multiple risk factors for bladder cancer, taking action early can help you protect your health. If you notice any concerning symptoms, it's important to get them checked by your GP. The earlier bladder cancer is diagnosed, the more likely it is to be cured.

Exposure to certain chemicals including PFAS has been scientifically demonstrated to significantly increase the risk for bladder cancer. If you are diagnosed with bladder cancer, you may be eligible for compensation or financial assistance. It is advisable to seek advice quickly so that you claim correctly and receive what you are entitled to. Our law firm is a good place to start. Schedule a free consultation now with our dedicated attorneys at Environmental Litigation Group.