Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is cancer of the bladder, the balloon-shaped organ that contracts during urination to help move urine out of your body. The 6th most common cancer in the United States, bladder cancer can affect anyone of any age, although it mostly seen in older adults. This cancer begins with cells lining the bladder, and is often diagnosed at a treatable, early stage.

Causes

When cells inside the bladder grow abnormally, bladder cancer can occur. There are different types of bladder cancer, differentiated by the types of cells that may become tumorous. The most common kind of bladder cancer is transitional cell carcinoma, a cancer of the cells that line the inside of the bladder. Squamous cell carcinoma is a cancer of the cells that appear in your bladder to fight infection. Adenocarcinoma occurs when the cells of the mucus-secreting glands of the bladder become cancerous.

While specific causes of bladder cancer are not known, there are a few identifiable factors that increase your risk. Smoking, for instance, is estimated to cause around 50% of bladder cancers cases in the United States. Long-term exposure to certain industrial chemicals is another cause.

Symptoms

Patients that have bladder cancer tend to exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain while urinating
  • Pelvic pain

Testing

There are a number of ways that doctors can work to diagnose bladder cancer. One of the primary methods is to perform a urine cytology test, which is an analysis of your urine for cancer cells or cancer-marking agents. However, the most powerful tool to diagnose bladder cancer is a cystoscopy.

During cystoscopy, a thin tube is inserted into the urethra, with a camera on the end of it. Through this procedure, a doctor can see within the bladder and urethra to search for tumors or other indications of bladder cancer. During cystoscopy, it may be necessary to perform a biopsy. Tissue can be collected by inserting a special tool through the scope. This process is known as transurethral resection (TUR).

Treatment

Treatment for bladder cancer depends on the type and stage of the cancer found within your bladder, along with a few other overall health factors.

For early stage bladder cancer, TUR is the preferred method. The cancer cells lining the bladder can be burned off via electrical current during the TUR procedure. Alternatively, a patient may undergo a partial cystectomy, where the tumor and an affected portion of the bladder is removed to prevent the spread of cancer. For more invasive forms of bladder cancer, it may be necessary to remove the entire bladder and create a new way for urine to leave your body,

Other options to treat bladder cancer involve immunotherapy through drugs inserted through the urethra, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.


If you feel you are exhibiting symptoms of bladder cancer, please consult your doctor. To read more about bladder cancer online, visit Urology Care Foundation.