The most common type of bladder cancer is transitional cell carcinoma, also called urothelial carcinoma. Smoking is a major risk factor for bladder cancer. Bladder cancer is often diagnosed at an early stage. Explore the links on this page to learn more about bladder cancer treatment, screening, statistics, research, and clinical trials.

Bladder Cancer Treatment

  • Bladder cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the bladder.
  • Smoking can affect the risk of bladder cancer.
  • Signs and symptoms of bladder cancer include blood in the urine and pain during urination.
  • Tests that examine the urine and bladder are used to help detect (find) and diagnose bladder cancer.
  • Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower part of the abdomen. It is shaped like a small balloon and has a muscular wall that allows it to get larger or smaller to store urine made by the kidneys. There are two kidneys, one on each side of the backbone, above the waist. Tiny tubules in the kidneys filter and clean the blood. They take out waste products and make urine. The urine passes from each kidney through a long tube called a ureter into the bladder. The bladder holds the urine until it passes through the urethra and leaves the body.

There are three types of bladder cancer that begin in cells in the lining of the bladder. These cancers are named for the type of cells that become malignant (cancerous):

  • Transitional cell carcinoma: Cancer that begins in cells in the innermost tissue layer of the bladder. These cells are able to stretch when the bladder is full and shrink when it is emptied. Most bladder cancers begin in the transitional cells. Transitional cell carcinoma can be low-grade or high-grade:
    • Low-grade transitional cell carcinoma often recurs (comes back) after treatment, but rarely spreads into the muscle layer of the bladder or to other parts of the body.
    • High-grade transitional cell carcinoma often recurs (comes back) after treatment and often spreads into the muscle layer of the bladder, to other parts of the body, and to lymph nodes. Almost all deaths from bladder cancer are due to high-grade disease.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: Cancer that begins in squamous cells (thin, flat cells lining the inside of the bladder). Cancer may form after long-term infection or irritation.
  • Adenocarcinoma: Cancer that begins in glandular cells that are found in the lining of the bladder. Glandular cells in the bladder make substances such as mucus. This is a very rare type of bladder cancer.

Cancer that is in the lining of the bladder is called superficial bladder cancer. Cancer that has spread through the lining of the bladder and invades the muscle wall of the bladder or has spread to nearby organs and lymph nodes is called invasive bladder cancer.

Childhood Bladder Cancer Treatment

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your child’s doctor if you think your child may be at risk for bladder cancer.

The risk of bladder cancer is increased in children who have been treated for cancer with certain anticancer drugs, called alkylating agents, which include cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, busulfan, and temozolomide.

These and other signs and symptoms may be caused by bladder cancer or by other conditions.

Check with your child’s doctor if your child has any of the following:

  • Blood in the urine (slightly rusty to bright red in color).
  • Frequent urination or feeling the need to urinate without being able to do so.
  • Pain during urination.
  • Abdominal or lower back pain.

Bladder and Other Urothelial Cancers Screening

  • Bladder and other urothelial cancers are diseases in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the urothelium.
  • Bladder cancer is more common in men than women.
  • Smoking can affect the risk of bladder cancer.

In the United States, bladder cancer occurs more often in men than in women, and more often in whites than in blacks. From 2007 to 2016, bladder cancer rates decreased slightly each year. From 2008 to 2017, deaths from bladder cancer also decreased slightly each year.

Risks of Screening for Bladder and Other Urothelial Cancers

  • Screening tests have risks.
  • False-positive test results can occur.
  • False-negative test results can occur.

 

 

 

What is Cancer?

  • Cancer can start almost anywhere in the human body, which is made up of trillions of cells. Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place.

  • Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the risk of getting cancer. This can include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding exposure to known cancer-causing substances, and taking medicines or vaccines that can prevent cancer from developing.

  • Cancer can cause many different symptoms. Most often these symptoms are not caused by cancer, but by benign tumors or other problems. If you have symptoms that last for a couple of weeks, your doctor will do a physical exam and order tests or other procedures to find out what is causing your symptoms.