What is bladder cancer?

Cancer occurs when abnormal cells reproduce in an uncontrolled fashion. In the urinary bladder, the cells that are most likely to become cancerous are the transitional cells, the stretchy cells that form the lining or inner layer of the organ. Of the 52,000 men and 18,000 women diagnosed with bladder cancer in the United States each year, more than 90% have transitional cell cancers (Source: NCI).

Bladder cancer is more common among older adults, males, and Caucasians. Although the specific cause is not known, various factors increase the risk of getting bladder cancer, including smoking and exposure to certain chemicals. Long-term inflammation, as can occur with chronic bladder infection, is associated with the more rare types of bladder cancer, such as squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.

Symptoms of bladder cancer can be similar to those of a bladder infection, such as needing to go to the bathroom urgently or frequently, as well as blood in the urine. Abdominal pain and urinary incontinence can also occur. The presence of abdominal, flank, or pelvic pain suggests spread of bladder cancer or advanced tumor spread. Weight loss can be seen with later-stage cancers.

Bladder cancer that is caught early has an excellent prognosis and can often be treated with surgery alone or surgery plus intravesical therapy (therapeutic agents put directly into the bladder). More advanced cancers may be treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy alone or in combination with surgery.

One symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. Slow rates of bleeding can eventually result in anemia. Sometimes, the bleeding can be more profuse. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for symptoms such as heavy bleeding, confusion, changes in level of consciousness, lethargy, sweating, pale or blue lips and fingernails, fast heart rate, difficulty breathing, or unusual anxiety.

Seek prompt medical care for blood in the urine.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of bladder cancer?

Many symptoms of bladder cancer resemble those of a bladder infection. Other symptoms, such as weight loss, are often not seen with early-stage cancers.

Common symptoms of bladder cancer

Common symptoms of bladder cancer include:

CAUSES

What causes bladder cancer?

The specific cause of bladder cancer is not known, although several factors that increase the risk of developing it have been identified.

What are the risk factors for bladder cancer?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing bladder cancer. Not all people with risk factors will get bladder cancer. Risk factors for bladder cancer include:

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TREATMENTS

How is bladder cancer treated?

Goal of cancer treatment

The goal of bladder cancer treatment is to permanently cure the cancer or to bring about a complete remission of the disease. Remission means that there is no longer any sign of the disease in the body, although it may recur or relapse later.

Common treatments for bladder cancer

Common treatments for bladder cancer include:

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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This Article is Filed Under: Cancer, Bladder Cancer