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Bladder Cancer

A written page with the definition of "bladder cancer" highlighted in pink
Malignant cancer cells can develop in the bladder, which is part of the urinary tract. The three different types of cancer (each named for the type of cells that are affected) that can develop are:
  • Urothelial Cell Carcinoma
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma
The stage of the cancer depends on where the cancer is located.
  • Cancer that is contained inside of the bladder is known as superficial bladder cancer.
  • Cancer that has spread through the lining of the bladder and in to the bladders muscle wall or spread outside of the bladder is called invasive bladder cancer.

Stages for bladder cancer range from Stage 0 though Stage 4, with each stage indicating where the tumor is located, if it has spread to lymph nodes and if it has metastasized. (See Stages of Cancer) 

Some risk factors for Bladder Cancer are:

Smoking: Smoking,or using other tobacco products greatly increases a person’s risk for bladder cancer.

Family history: The chance of developing bladder cancer increases when immediate family members have had the disease.

Personal history: A person’s risk is increased with a history of recurrent bladder infections or long-time urinary catheter use.

Exposure: Certain paints, dyes, metals, or petroleum, as well as consuming water with high levels of arsenic or that has been treated with chlorine may increase a person’s risk.

Prior treatment: Receiving previous radiation therapy treatment to the pelvis, or certain anti-cancer drugs may cause an increased risk.

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms are different for each patient. It’s important to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your physician. They may include:

  • Blood in urine (most common)
  • Frequent and/or painful urination
  • Inability to urinate or urinating less than normally
  • Pain in the lower back

Screening & Diagnostic Testing

A complete physical exam and medical history should be done. The exam will check for any unusual physical signs. A complete medical history is also important to fully understand a person’s health habits, family history, previous illnesses, and past exposure. Additional testing may include:

  • Urinalysis
  • Urine Cytology
  • Cystoscopy
  • Biopsy
  • Imaging (CT Scan, Intravenous Pyelogram)

Helpful Patient Resources:

We understand that receiving a cancer diagnosis can be a very scary and an emotional time for the patient and their families. It is very important to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your oncologist. We highly recommend that if you do any research about your disease, that you do so only with reputable sources. For your convenience, we’ve listed some below.

National Cancer Institute

Bladder Cancer - Patient Version

American Cancer Society

Bladder Cancer

National Comprehensive Cancer Network

Guidelines for Patients