Bladder cancer – A comprehensive guide

Bladder cancer – A comprehensive guide

Bladder cancer is a condition where tumors develop in the bladder and start multiplying. According to a study conducted by the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that nearly 81,180 bladder cancer cases will be diagnosed in the country. This type of cancer is more common in men than women. This article sheds light on the types of bladder cancer, risk factors, symptoms, and the treatments available. Read on to stay informed.

What is bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the bladder, a hollow organ located in the lower abdomen. It helps hold and release urine. Sadly, bladder cancer is the 6th most common type of cancer in men. In women, this is the 17th most common type.

Types of bladder cancer

Depending on where the tumor begins and how it progresses, different types of bladder cancers have been identified. The common ones are mentioned below.

  • Urothelial carcinoma
    This is the most prevalent type of bladder cancer diagnosed, where the tumor starts in the urothelial cells. These cells stretch when the bladder is full and shrink when it empties. Low-grade transitional cell carcinoma does not usually spread to the other layers of the bladder or nearby organs. However, the high-grade transitional cell carcinoma quickly spreads to the muscle layers and other organs and becomes fatal.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
    In this type of bladder cancer, the tumor begins in the squamous cells. This cancer usually occurs in people who have long-term infections.
  • Adenocarcinoma
    This cancer begins in the glandular cells that are responsible for producing mucus. This cancer is not very prevalent.
  • Small cell carcinoma
    This cancer begins in the neuroendocrine cells. This cancer grows rapidly and spreads throughout the bladder and other organs.
  • Sarcoma cancer
    Sarcoma bladder cancer starts in the muscle cells and is also very rare.

Depending on how the tumor grows, these cancers are of two sub-types.

  • Flat carcinomas
    Here, the tumor is flat and does not grow towards the hollow regions of the bladder.
  • Papillary carcinoma
    The tumor grows finger-like and projects towards the hollow regions of the bladder.

Depending on how the tumor spreads, these cancers are of two types.

  • Invasive bladder cancer
    These grow into the deeper layers of the bladder and are more likely to spread to the nearby organs.
  • Non-invasive cancer
    These grow only in the innermost layers of the bladder and are less likely to spread to the nearby organs.

Risk factors for bladder cancer

One of the unpreventable risk factors for developing bladder cancer is genes. You could be genetically inclined to develop tumors in the bladder. Other than this, most other risk factors are preventable and include:

  • Smoking
  • Exposure to harsh chemicals. These include benzidine, arsenic, and beta-naphthylamine are proven to cause bladder cancer.
  • Untreated, chronic bladder infections

Symptoms of bladder cancer

Like any other disease, the earlier the diagnosis is, the better the prognosis. Below is a list of the signs and symptoms of this type of cancer to look out for:

  • Hematuria
    This is characterized by blood in the urine. If the urine changes color and looks pink, orange, or red, consult a doctor right away.
  • Urination changes
    If one experiences the sudden need to urinate often, has pain while urinating, and struggles with incontinence, then talk to a doctor.

People with advanced stages of bladder cancer find it difficult to urinate, struggle with weight loss, and lack an appetite. Some even develop swelling in the legs because of urine accumulation and have severe back pain.


There are different kinds of treatments available for bladder cancer, and these are chosen based on the stage of cancer and its type. While surgery is a common option in those with non-invasive cancer, options such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy are chosen for later stages and invasive cancer growths. The success rate of treatments depends on how far cancer has spread, the age of the patient, and the type of tumor.

People with bladder cancer may live a long and healthy life with the right treatments and post-recovery care. Identifying the tumor is important to live a long life and enjoy a better quality of life. Make sure to reach out to a doctor if one notices any abnormal changes.

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