Bladder cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the lining of the bladder, the muscular organ that stores urine in the body. Almost all cases of bladder cancer are transitional cell carcinomas, also known as urothelial carcinoma. Transitional cell carcinomas begin when the normal urothelial cells that line the inside of the bladder become cancerous and start to grow uncontrollably. Other rarer types of bladder cancer include squamous cell carcinomas and adenocarcinomas. A malignant tumor can form and grow through the lining of the bladder, making it easier to reach nearby organs and metastasize to other parts of the body. Bladder cancer affects men more frequently than women. The likelihood of a diagnosis increases with age, particularly for adults over the age of 40 years.
Signs and symptoms of bladder cancer may include one or more of the following:
- Blood in the urine, or hematuria
- Frequent or painful urination
- Increased urges to urinate
- Pelvic, back, or bone pain
The exact underlying cause or causes of bladder cancer are unknown. However, suggested factors that may increase the risk of bladder cancer include smoking and tobacco use, exposure to chemicals or radiation—including previous cancer treatment, a personal or family history of cancer, chronic bladder inflammation, and parasitic infections (more common to those who have lived or travelled outside of the United States).
Bladder cancer is highly treatable when discovered at an early stage. However, because at any stage bladder cancer may recur, experts suggest continuous follow-ups with and active surveillance by medical professionals. Treatment for bladder cancer varies based on a number of factors, such as the type, location, and stage of cancer.
Treatment options for bladder cancer may include one or more of the following:
- Chemotherapy, both intravesical and systemic
- Radiation therapy