Bladder cancer is a disease in which malignant
(cancer) cells form in the tissues of the bladder.
The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower part of
the abdomen. It is shaped like a small balloon and has a muscular wall
that allows it to get larger or smaller.
The bladder stores urine until it is passed out of
the body. Urine is the liquid waste that is made by the kidneys when they
clean the blood.
The urine passes from the two kidneys into the
bladder through two tubes called ureters. When the bladder is emptied
during urination, the urine goes from the bladder to the outside of the
body through another tube called the urethra.
Three Different Types:
There are three types of bladder cancer that begin in
cells in the lining of the bladder. These cancers are named for the type
of cells that become malignant (cancerous):
Transitional cell carcinoma: Cancer that begins in
cells in the innermost tissue layer of the bladder. These cells are able
to change shape depending on whether the bladder is full or empty and may
be stretched without breaking apart. Most bladder cancers begin in the
Squamous cell carcinoma: Cancer that begins in
squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells that may form in the bladder
after long-term infection or irritation.
Adenocarcinoma: Cancer that begins in glandular (secretory)
cells. Glandular cells in the lining of the bladder produce and release
fluids such as mucus.
Cancer that is confined to the lining of the bladder
is called superficial bladder cancer. Cancer that begins in the
transitional cells may spread through the lining of the bladder and invade
the muscle wall of the bladder or spread to nearby organs and lymph nodes;
this is called invasive bladder cancer.
Smoking, gender, and diet can affect the risk of
developing bladder cancer.
Risk factors include the following:
Being exposed to certain substances at work, such as
rubber, certain dyes and textiles, paint, and hairdressing supplies.
A diet high in fried meats and fat.
Being older, male, or white.
Having an infection caused by a certain parasite.
Possible signs of bladder cancer include blood in
the urine or pain during urination.
These and other symptoms may be caused by bladder
cancer. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be
consulted if any of the following problems occur:
Blood in the urine (slightly rusty to bright red in
Frequent urination, or feeling the need to urinate
without being able to do so.
Pain during urination.
Lower back pain.
Tests that examine the urine, vagina, or rectum are
used to help detect (find) and diagnose bladder cancer.
The following tests and procedures may be used:
CT scan (CAT scan): A procedure that makes a series
of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different
angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A
dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues
show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography,
computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
Urinalysis: A test to check the color of urine and
its contents, such as sugar, protein, blood, and bacteria.
Internal exam: An exam of the vagina and/or rectum.
The doctor inserts gloved fingers into the vagina and/or rectum to feel
Intravenous pyelogram (IVP): A series of x-rays of
the kidneys, ureters, and bladder to find out if cancer is present in
these organs. A contrast dye is injected into a vein. As the contrast dye
moves through the kidneys, ureters, and bladder, x-rays are taken to see
if there are any blockages.
Cystoscopy: A procedure to look inside the bladder
and urethra to check for abnormal areas. A cystoscope (a thin, lighted
tube) is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. Tissue samples may
be taken for biopsy.
Biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues so they can
be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of
cancer. A biopsy for bladder cancer is usually done during cystoscopy. It
may be possible to remove the entire tumor during biopsy.
Urine cytology: Examination of urine under a
microscope to check for abnormal cells.
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery)
and treatment options.
The prognosis (chance of recovery) depends on the
The stage of the cancer (whether it is superficial or
invasive bladder cancer, and whether it has spread to other places in the
body). Bladder cancer in the early stages can often be cured.
The type of bladder cancer cells and how they look
under a microscope.
The patients age and general health.
Treatment options depend on the stage of bladder
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