Bladder Cancer

What is Bladder Cancer?

Bladder cancer is the development of a cancer in the urinary bladder. This condition is more common in men than women, and becomes more common with age. The most common symptoms are blood in the urine (hematuria) and urination problems. Treatment and the outcome after having bladder cancer depend on the size and type of cancer.

Risks

Bladder cancer is more common in men than women, and becomes more likely with age. People who smoke, or who are exposed to cigarette smoke, have a higher risk of bladder cancer. Exposure to some industrial chemicals and fumes, including arsenic, benzene and diesel exhaust, also increases the risk of developing this condition. Persistent or often-recurring bladder infections also increase one's risk.

Symptoms

Typical symptoms include blood in the urine (hematuria) and urination problems, such as pain when urinating, urinating more frequently and feeling a sudden urge to urinate. Some people may have recurring urinary tract infections (bladder or kidney infections). Other symptoms may include pain low in the belly or in the back and swelling of the legs.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is based on the symptoms and, occasionally, the physical examination. A urine analysis can be done to look for blood and cancer cells in the urine. A cystoscopy (looking at the inside of the bladder with a camera) will be done to confirm the diagnosis and to take a sample of the cancer for further investigation. A computer tomography (CT) scan is also helpful in investigating whether the cancer has spread to other locations.

Treatment

Treatment of bladder cancer depends on the size of the cancer, the exact type of cancer and whether the cancer has spread. The combination of these factors decides the stage of the cancer. Depending on the stage of the cancer, bladder cancer may be treated by surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy or a combination of these. The treating doctor can give the best advice as to treatment.

Prevention

Quitting smoking can help reduce the likelihood of developing bladder cancer.

Other names for bladder cancer

  • Bladder carcinoma
  • Bladder tumor
  • Transitional cell carcinoma