Bladder Cancer

What is bladder cancer?

The bladder is an organ that stores urine which is made in your kidneys and is transferred to your bladder by tubes called ureters. From your bladder, urine leaves your body through the urethra which is shorter in women and longer in men. Bladder cancers can affect not only your bladder but your ureters and urethra as well. There are different types of bladder cancers and they will have different treatment options.

What are the different types of bladder cancer?

Transitional cell carcinoma (urothelial) is the most common type of bladder cancer. Urothelial cells line the inside of the bladder, as well as other parts of the urinary tract. If there is a tumor, the entire urinary tract including the kidneys will need to be examined for cancerous cells.

Other bladder cancers include:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Small cell carcinoma
  • Sarcoma

What are the signs and symptoms of bladder cancer?

Signs of bladder cancer include blood in the urine, changes in urination habits and pain while urinating. Symptoms of a more advanced bladder cancer include:

  • Inability to urinate
  • Lower back pain 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling in the feet
  • Bone pain

Urination problems are also common signs of a urinary tract infection which requires medication. Consult your physician if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

What are the causes and risk factors of bladder cancer?

The exact cause of bladder cancer is still unknown. However, certain risks can increase your chance of developing it. In addition to family history and genetics, bladder cancer risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Industrial chemical exposure
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Chronic bladder problems
  • Arsenic exposure in drinking water
  • Low fluid consumption
  • Certain medications

In addition to these risk factors, having bladder or urothelial cancer can increase your risk for developing bladder cancer again. Bladder birth defects also increase a person's risk for bladder cancer.

How is bladder cancer diagnosed and treated?

Physicians can use urinalysis tests to find blood in urine which is a sign of bladder cancer. Other diagnostic tests include urine cytology and urine tests for tumor markers. These tests have been successful at finding bladder cancer early to help patients fight cancer to best of their abilities. Treatment plans for bladder cancer may include surgery, intravesical therapy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

Bladder Cancer Treatment at Baptist Cancer Center

At Baptist Cancer Center, patients receive advanced, leading-edge care. Bladder cancer treatment teams may include urologists, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists and other medical professionals such as nurse practitioners, nurses, psychologists and rehab specialists. We take into consideration your goals and will work closely with you and your family to help ensure you receive the information, support and care that you need close to home.