About Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer occurs when abnormal cells within the bladder grow in an uncontrolled way.

The bladder is located in the lower abdomen. It is a hollow organ with a muscular wall that allows it to get bigger or smaller as needed. The wall of the bladder has several layers, which are made up of different types of cells.

The bladder stores urine until it is released from the body through the urethra. If cancer cells do not spread beyond the lining of the bladder, this is called superficial bladder cancer.

Most bladder cancers start in the innermost lining of the bladder. As the cancer grows into or through the other layers in the bladder wall, it becomes more advanced and can be harder to treat.

Sometimes, cancer cells can spread into the muscle wall of the bladder or to other organs and lymph nodes. This is called invasive bladder cancer.

Types of Bladder Cancer

There are three main types of bladder cancer. These are named after the cell type in which the cancer first develops.

The most common type of bladder cancer starts in the urothelial cells in the inner-most layer of the bladder walls. This is called Urothelial Carcinoma (or transitional cell carcinoma). Over 90% of bladder cancer cases start in the urothelial cells.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma starts in the thin, flat cells lining the bladder. Adenocarcinoma is a rare type of bladder cancer that starts in glandular cells lining the bladder.

Symptoms

If you see blood in your urine, go to the doctor!

Blood in the urine- if youre urine looks like Coka Cola, get it checked.
Frequent or urgent urination- a feeling of needing to urinate immediately.
Pain during urination- or pain in the pelvis or lower back during urination.

There are a number of conditions that may cause these symptoms, not just bladder cancer. But if any of these symptoms are experience, it is important that they are discussed with a doctor.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is any factor that is associated with an increased chance of developing a particular health condition, such as bladder cancer.

There are different types of risk factors, some of which can be modified and some which cannot.

It should be noted that having one or more risk factors does not mean a person will develop bladder cancer. Many people have at least one risk factor but will never develop bladder cancer, while others with bladder cancer may have had no known risk factors.

Even if a person with bladder cancer has a risk factor, it is usually hard to know how much that risk factor contributed to the development of their disease.

While the causes of bladder cancer are not fully understood, there are a number of factors associated with the risk of developing the disease. Those factors include:

  • Tabacco smoking
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, such as benzene derivatives and aryl amines
  • Exposure to radiotherapy treatment for cancers in the pelvis /
    lower abdomen

Diagnosis

A number of tests may be performed to investigate symptoms of bladder cancer and confirm a diagnosis.

-Physical examination
-Examination of a urine sample
-Imaging of bladder & nearby organs

which may include ultrasound, X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scans, or magnetic resonance imagine (MRI)
-Examination inside the bladder
using a cystoscope (a camera on a thin tube inserted into the urethra)
-Taking a sample of tissue (biopsy)
from the bladder wall for examination under a microscope

The earlier bladder cancer is found, the better the chance for successful treatment. However, there is not yet a test accurate enough to screen the general population for bladder cancer, so most people are diagnosed with bladder cancer once they have symptoms.

As a result, some people have more advanced (later stage) disease when the cancer is found. Most people, though, are usually diagnosed with noninvasive bladder cancer.

Treatment Options

Treatment and care of people with cancer is usally provided by a team of health professionals – called a multidisciplinary team.

Treatment for bladder cancer depends on the stage of the disease, the severity of symptoms, and the person’s general health. Treatment options can include surgery to remove part or all of the bladder, radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells.

Research is ongoing to find new wasy to diagnose and treat different types of cancer. Some people may be offered the option of participation in a clinical trial to test new ways of treating bladder cancer.