Bladder Cancer

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the lining of the bladder. Generally, bladder cancer starts as a non-invasive cancer as it forms within the inner layers of the bladder.  Known as Urothelium cell carcinoma or Transitional cell carcinoma, it is the most common form of bladder cancer. Invasive bladder cancers can pierce through the inner layers of the bladder and move into deeper layers. Once the cancer has moved into deeper layers, it is more prone to metastasize into other areas of the body making it much more difficult to treat.

Types of Bladder Cancer

  • Urothelium or Transitional cell carcinoma: Cancer that begins in cells that line the inside of the bladder. This is the most common type of bladder cancer.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma: Cancer that begins in squamous cells. These are thin, flat cells that normally are not in the bladder but can form due to certain infections or long-term irritation of the bladder from stones or indwelling urinary catheters.

  • Adenocarcinoma: Cancer that begins in glandular (secretory) cells. Glandular cells in the lining of the bladder produce and release fluids such as mucus.

  • Small cell carcinoma: Cancer that begins in neuroendrocrine cells in the bladder (nerve-like cells).

  • Sarcoma: Cancer that begins in bladder muscle cells.

Bladder Cancer Risk Factors

  • The incidence of bladder cancer increases with age. The average age of diagnoses is 65.

  • Men are more at risk of developing bladder cancer compared to women.

  • Causacians are more likely to develop bladder cancer compared to Hispanics or African Americans.

  • Cigarette smokers have an increased risk of developing bladder cancer. In fact, smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop bladder cancer.

  • Exposure to certain chemicals has also been associated with an increased risk of developing bladder cancer.

  • Chronic inflammation of the bladder.

  • Some medications.

Bladder Cancer Symptoms

Statistics indicate that 80% of bladder cancer present as 'painless' hematuria (blood in the urine).

  • Blood in the urine (Hematuria): Blood in the urine is associated with several different conditions, including infection, stones and enlarged prostates. However, blood in the urine can also signal cancer, so further screening is standard protocol.

  • Changes with urination is also associated with several urinary tract conditions including bladder cancer. When a person has trouble urinating, is urinating frequently, has urgency, or experiences pain and/or burning when urinating, they should visit their doctor.

  • Advanced Bladder Cancer: when a person has advanced bladder cancer, they may initially present with extreme weight loss, abdominal pain, or bone pain.

How is Bladder Cancer Diagnosed?

Normal protocol for diagnosing bladder cancer include:

  • Urine cytology (blood test): screening for bladder cancer cells.
  • Cystoscopy: scope that is inserted into the bladder to visually scan for abnormal lesions or tumors.
  • CT scan: used to stage the cancer and to see if the cancer has spread beyond the bladder.

Bladder Cancer Treatment

Bladder cancer treatment varies depending on the stage and grade of the cancer. Treatment options can include:

  • Low grade tumor: a local re-section of the bladder tumor can be done
  • Higher grade tumor: chemotherapy is used to treat the tumor
  • Cancer that has progressed: the bladder may need to be partially removed, or fully removed.