The bladder is located in the lower abdomen. It is a hollow organ with flexible muscular walls. It stores urine until a person is ready to urinate. Bladder cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the bladder.
Three main types of cancer affect the bladder. They are named for the type of cell that becomes cancerous:
- Transitional cell (urothelial) carcinoma—more than 90% of bladder cancers
- Squamous cell carcinoma—about 4% of bladder cancers
- Adenocarcinoma—about 1%-2% of bladder cancers
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Risk factors that increase your chance of developing bladder cancer include:
- Increasing age: The majority of people with bladder cancer are between 65 and 85 years old.
- Occupation (due to exposure to certain substances)
- Those at risk include:
- Rubber, leather, and textile workers
- Truck drivers
- Petroleum industry workers
- Those at risk include:
- Race: White
- Sex: male
- Chronic bladder inflammation or infection (such as schistosomiasis, an infection caused by a parasitic worm)
- Personal or family history of bladder cancer
- Chemotherapeutic drugs: cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide
- Exposure to arsenic
- Radiation treatment of the pelvis
- Bladder birth defects
- Chemicals (such as nitrosamines, benzidine)
- Urinary stones for many years
- In-dwelling catheter for many years
- Bladder diverticuli: an area of weakness in the bladder wall through which some of the lining of the bladder is forced out
- Metastasis from another cancer
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Frequent urination, or feeling the need to urinate without being able
- Painful urination
- Lower back pain
- Weight loss, bone pain, or abdominal pain in advanced cases
Your doctor will feel the abdomen and pelvis for abnormalities. The physical exam may include a rectal or vaginal exam.
- Your doctor may need to examine your urine. This can be done with:
- Urine cytology
- Urine culture
- Your doctor may to look at your bladder and the surrounding area. This can be done with:
- Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
- CT scan
- Bone scan
- Your doctor may also order a biopsy to remove a sample of bladder tissue to test for cancer cells.
Treatment options include:
- Transurethral resection
- Cystectomy (surgical removal of all or part of the bladder)
- Radiation Therapy
- Biologic Therapy (Immunotherapy)
The following steps can reduce your risk of getting bladder cancer:
- Don't smoke or use tobacco products. If you do, quit.
- Avoid or minimize occupational exposure to certain chemicals; follow good work safety practices.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid excess intake of high fat or high cholesterol.
- Minimize the use of phenacetin, a medication.