Bladder Cancer
(Cancer of the Urinary Bladder)

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Bladder cancer facts

  • The bladder is a hollow organ that collects urine for storage and eventual removal from the body through the urethra. Bladder cancer is the abnormal growth of bladder cells and is one of the common cancers; men have a higher risk of getting bladder cancer than women.
  • The most common symptom of bladder cancer is bleeding in the urine (hematuria).
  • Cigarette smoking is the most significant risk factor, with smokers three to four times more likely to get the disease than nonsmokers.
  • Bladder cancer can be subdivided into noninvasive and invasive, with the former having much better treatment outcomes than the latter.
  • The initial treatment for bladder cancer is transurethral resection (TURBT), which removes the tumor from the bladder through the urethra and provides information regarding stage and grade of the tumor.
  • Bladder cancer is staged (classified by the classified by extent of spread of the cancer) and graded (how abnormal and/or aggressive the cells appear under the microscope) to both determine treatments and possible prognosis for individual patients.
  • Low-grade superficial tumors (Ta) are treated with TURBT followed by an optional instillation of a chemotherapy medication in the bladder to reduce recurrence rates. These tumors have high recurrence rates but a very low chance of progression to higher stages.
  • High-grade T1 tumors have high chances of recurrence and progression and may need additional treatment in the form of BCG or chemotherapy instillation in the bladder. Patients unresponsive to these may be best treated by radical cystectomy.
  • Radical cystectomy provides the best chances of cure in patients with muscle invasive disease.
  • Chemotherapy is used in patients with metastatic disease at presentation or those in which bladder cancer cells are present outside the bladder wall or in lymph nodes during radical cystectomy.
  • The prognosis of bladder cancer ranges from good to poor and depends on the stage and grade of the cancer.
  • People may reduce the risk of bladder cancer by not smoking and by avoiding environmental carcinogens.
  • Informational and support groups are available for anyone concerned about bladder cancer.

Bladder Cancer Pictures Slideshow: Symptoms, Stages & Treatment

What is the bladder?

The urinary bladder, or the bladder, is a hollow organ in the pelvis. Most of it lies behind the pubic bone of the pelvis, but when full of urine, it can extend up into the lower part of the abdomen. Its primary function is to store urine that drains into it from the kidney through tube-like structures called the ureters. The ureters from both the kidneys open into the urinary bladder. The bladder forms a low-pressure reservoir that gradually stretches out as urine fills into it. In males, the prostate gland is located adjacent to the base of the bladder where urethra joins the bladder. From time to time, the muscular wall of the bladder contracts to expel urine through the urinary passage (urethra) into the outside world. The normal volume of the full bladder is about 400 ml-600 ml, or about 2 cups.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/8/2015

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Bladder Cancer - Effective Treatment Question: What treatment has been effective for your bladder cancer?
Bladder Cancer - Share Your Experience Question: Please share your experience with bladder cancer.
Bladder Cancer - Causes or Risk Factors Question: Do you have any risk factors for bladder cancer?
Bladder Cancer - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you experience with your bladder cancer?
Bladder Cancer - Diagnosis Question: What led to your bladder cancer diagnosis?
Bladder Cancer - Transurethral Surgery Experience Question: Please share your experience with surgery for bladder cancer.
Bladder Cancer - Chemotherapy Experience Question: Did you have chemotherapy to treat bladder cancer? Please describe what it was like.

Bladder Cancer Risk Factors

The cause of bladder cancer is not understood, but certain risk factors are known to increase an individual's risk of getting bladder cancer.

  • Men are about three to four times more likely than women to develop bladder cancer, and older people are more likely to be affected. Up to 90% of those affected are over 55 years of age.
  • Smokers are at an increased risk for development of bladder cancer.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals used in manufacturing and industry (including paints and paint thinners, some hairdressing supplies, and certain dyes) are associated with a higher risk of bladder cancer, so people who work in certain occupations (workers in the rubber, chemical, and leather industries; hairdressers; machinists; metal workers; printers; painters; textile workers; and truck drivers) are at increased risk.
  • Being infected with certain parasites that are common in tropical areas also increases the risk for bladder cancer.