What Causes Bladder Cancer
Healthcare providers and researchers dont know exactly why certain bladder cells mutate and become cancerous cells. Theyve identified many different risk factors that may increase your chance of developing bladder cancer, including:
- Cigarette smoke: Smoking cigarettes more than doubles your risk of developing bladder cancer. Smoking pipes and cigars and being exposed to second-hand smoke may also increase your risk.
- Radiation exposure: Radiation therapy to treat cancer may increase your risk of developing bladder cancer.
- Chemotherapy: Certain chemotherapy drugs may increase your risk.
- Exposure to certain chemicals: Studies show that people who work with certain chemicals used in dyes, rubber, leather, paint, some textiles and hairdressing supplies may have an increased risk.
- Frequent bladder infections: People who have frequent bladder infections, bladder stones or other urinary tract infections may be at an increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma.
- Chronic catheter use: People who have a chronic need for a catheter in their bladder may be at risk for squamous cell carcinoma.
Do You Know The Warning Signs Of Bladder Cancer
Jeanny B. Aragon-Ching, MD, is the clinical program director of genitourinary cancers at the Inova Schar Cancer Institute. She is board certified in medical oncology, hematology and internal medicine and has a special interest in caring for patients with prostate, bladder, kidney and testicular cancers. Read Dr. Aragon-Chings profile.
Bladder cancer doesnt get the attention that some cancers do, though it isnt rare. In 2017, an estimated 79,000 new cases will be diagnosed.
May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month which makes it the perfect time to learn about the risks and warning signs.
Who is at Risk for Bladder Cancer?
Several factors can increase the odds of developing cancer of the bladder:
- Gender: Bladder cancer is about 4 times as common in men as in women.
- Racial background: Bladder cancer is more common in white Americans than in African-Americans or Americans of Hispanic descent. Asian-Americans have the lowest rates.
- Smoking: People who smoke tobacco are diagnosed with bladder cancer twice as often as those who dont smoke.
- Occupational exposures: People who work in jobs handling paint, dyes, rubber, leather and textiles have an increased risk of bladder cancer.
- Age: As with many cancers, the likelihood of developing bladder cancer goes up as you age. Most diagnoses are in people over 55.
Spotting the Signs
Other symptoms can include:
Diagnosing and Treating Bladder Cancer
Shining a Light on Rare Bladder Cancer Types
Invisible Blood In Your Urine
The urine sample you leave as part of a routine checkup or other medical visit is often checked for microscopic amounts of blood during a lab test called urinalysis. If even a few red blood cells are found, you should always find out the cause, Lotan says. Though theres usually another explanation, these traces of blood can be the first signs of bladder cancer, he says.
Other possible causes include urinary tract infections, kidney or bladder stones and prostate problems. Women with blood in their urine often are assumed to have urinary tract infections, but that diagnosis should always be confirmed with a culture, a test that finds any bacteria growing in the urine, Bochner says. The assumption that women are unlikely to have bladder cancer is one reason women are diagnosed later and fare worse with the disease than men do, says Eugene Pietzak, also a urologic surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering.
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Risk Factor: Chemical Exposure
Research suggests that certain jobs may increase your risk for bladder cancer. Metal workers, mechanics, and hairdressers are among those who may be exposed to cancer-causing chemicals. If you work with dyes, or in the making of rubber, textiles, leather, or paints, be sure to follow safety procedures to reduce contact with dangerous chemicals. Smoking further increases risk from chemical exposure.
Anyone can get bladder cancer, but these factors put you at greater risk:
- Gender: Men are three times more likely to get bladder cancer.
- Age: Nine out of 10 cases occur over age 55.
- Race: Whites have twice the risk of African-Americans.
Other factors at play include a family history of bladder cancer, previous cancer treatment, certain birth defects of the bladder, and chronic bladder irritation.
There Are Different Types Of Treatment For Patients With Bladder Cancer
Different types of treatment are available for patients with bladder cancer. Some treatments are standard , and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.
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If You’re Concerned About Bladder Cancer Ask Your Doctor About Cxbladder
Cxbladder is a non-invasive genomic urine test that quickly and accurately detects or rules out bladder cancer. The test combines clinical risk factor markers with genetic information, measuring five biomarker genes to detect the presence or absence of bladder cancer.
When should you consider using Cxbladder?
- When youve seen blood in your urine
- If preliminary tests have detected blood in your urine
- If you have a history of bladder cancer and are being monitored for recurrence
Cxbladder provides reliable results that will help your doctor make informed diagnosis and management decisions with you.
Diagnostic Evaluations For Early Bladder Cancer Treatment
While there are many underlying health issues that can have symptoms similar to bladder cancer, but its always best to follow through with your urologist at Urology Specialist Group. By ruling out bladder cancer as quickly as possible, you can focus more on identifying the root cause of your symptoms
In the event your symptoms are related to bladder cancer, you can benefit from early medical intervention and treatments like immunotherapy. Early-stage bladder cancer is often easier to treat and can reduce the likelihood youll need to have surgery and other invasive treatments to protect your bladder health.
If youre experiencing symptoms of bladder cancer, schedule a diagnostic evaluation today at Urology Specialist Group by or by booking an appointment online now.
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What Is Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer is a relatively rare form of cancer that starts in the lining of your bladder. Your bladder is a small hollow organ that holds your pee . Healthcare providers have many ways to treat bladder cancer, including surgery to remove bladder cancer. Bladder cancer may come back after treatment, so people with bladder cancer should be vigilant about following up with their healthcare providers.
Healthcare providers can treat early-stage bladder cancer cancer thats found and treated before it can spread but about 75% of early-stage bladder cancers come back.
How does this condition affect my body?
Your bladder is a triangle-shaped organ thats centered between your hip bones, above your urethra and below your kidneys. Pee from your kidneys drains into your bladder, which is lined with tissue called urothelium. Urothelium is made of cells that stretch when your bladder fills with pee and collapses when its empty.
Bladder cancer happens when certain cells in the tissue lining your bladder mutate or change, becoming abnormal cells that multiply and cause tumors in your bladder. Left untreated, bladder cancer may grow through your bladder walls to nearby lymph nodes and then other areas of your body, including your bones, lungs or liver.
What are bladder cancer types?
There are three types of bladder cancer. Each type is named for the cells that line the wall of your bladder where the cancer started. Bladder cancer types include:
How common is bladder cancer?
Cancer Signals In Both Men And Women
Appetite loss. Many conditions, from depression to the flu, can make you feel less hungry. Cancer can have this effect by changing your metabolism, the way your body turns food into energy.
Stomach, pancreatic, colon, and ovarian cancers also can put pressure on your stomach and make you feel too full to eat.
Blood in the stool. Cancers can bleed, but so can a bunch of other things, like ulcers, hemorrhoids, infections, or a sore. When you see red in your poop, the blood is often from somewhere in your GI tract, meaning your esophagus, stomach, or intestines.
One way to tell where the blood is coming from is by how light or dark it looks. Bright red could mean the bleeding is in your rectum or the end of your intestines. A darker color means it may be from higher up, like a stomach ulcer .
No matter what the cause, blood in your stool needs to be checked out. You may need a colonoscopy or other tests to find the problem.
Blood in the urine. When it shows up in your pee, blood could be a warning sign of a problem in your urinary tract. Kidney or bladder cancer can cause this symptom, but it could also be due to an infection, kidney stones, or kidney disease.
Cough that doesn’t go away. A cold or the flu can make you hack away, but it’s also a potential symptom of lung cancer, along with red flags like chest pain, weight loss, hoarseness, fatigue, and shortness of breath. See your doctor if you can’t seem to shake it, especially if you’re a smoker.
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How Can I Prevent Bladder Cancer
You may not be able to prevent bladder cancer, but it may be helpful to know the risk factors that may increase the chance youll develop bladder cancer. Bladder cancer risk factors may include:
- Smoking cigarettes: Cigarette smoking more than doubles the risk of developing bladder cancer. Smoking pipes and cigars or being exposed to second-hand smoke also increases that risk.
- Cancer treatments: Radiation therapy is the second-most common risk factor. People who have certain chemotherapy drugs may also develop an increased risk of bladder cancer.
- Exposure to certain chemicals: People who work with chemicals, such as aromatic amines , are at an increased risk. Extensive exposure to rubber, leather, some textiles, paint and hairdressing supplies, typically related to occupational exposure, also appears to increase the risk.
- Infections: People who have frequent bladder infections, bladder stones or other urinary tract diseases may have an increased risk of developing bladder cancer.
- Past bladder cancer: People with a previous bladder cancer are at increased risk to form new or recurrent bladder tumors.
How Long Will You Live If You Have Bladder Cancer
The general 5-year survival rate for people with bladder cancer is 77%. However, survival rates depend on many factors, including the type and stage of bladder cancer that is diagnosed. The 5-year survival rate of people with bladder cancer that has not spread beyond the inner layer of the bladder wall is 96%.
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Bladder Cancer Is A Disease In Which Malignant Cells Form In The Tissues Of The Bladder
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.
- 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 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 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.
See the following PDQ summaries for more information:
Changes In Bladder Habits Or Symptoms Of Irritation
Bladder cancer can sometimes cause changes in urination, such as:
- Having to urinate more often than usual
- Pain or burning during urination
- Feeling as if you need to go right away, even when your bladder isn’t full
- Having trouble urinating or having a weak urine stream
- Having to get up to urinate many times during the night
These symptoms are more likely to be caused by a urinary tract infection , bladder stones, an overactive bladder, or an enlarged prostate . Still, its important to have them checked by a doctor so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
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The Following Stages Are Used For Bladder Cancer:
In stage 0, abnormalcells are found in tissue lining the inside of the bladder. These abnormal cells may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue. Stage 0 is divided into stages 0a and 0is, depending on the type of the tumor:
- Stage 0a is also called noninvasive papillary carcinoma, which may look like long, thin growths growing from the lining of the bladder.
- Stage 0is is also called carcinoma in situ, which is a flat tumor on the tissue lining the inside of the bladder.
Stage III is divided into stages IIIA and IIIB.
- cancer has spread from the bladder to the layer of fat surrounding the bladder and may have spread to the reproductive organs and cancer has not spread to lymph nodes or
- cancer has spread from the bladder to one lymph node in the pelvis that is not near the common iliac arteries .
How Do Healthcare Providers Diagnose Bladder Cancer
Healthcare providers do a series of tests to diagnose bladder cancer, including:
- Urinalysis: Providers use a variety of tests to analyze your pee. In this case, they may do urinalysis to rule out infection.
- Cytology: Providers examine cells under a microscope for signs of cancer.
- Cystoscopy: This is the primary test to identify and diagnose bladder cancer. For this test, providers use a pencil-sized lighted tube called a cystoscope to view the inside of your bladder and urethra. They may use a fluorescent dye and a special blue light that makes it easier to see cancer in your bladder. Providers may also take tissue samples while doing cystoscopies.
If urinalysis, cytology and cystoscopy results show you have bladder cancer, healthcare providers then do tests to learn more about the cancer, including:
Healthcare providers then use what they learn about the cancer to stage the disease. Staging cancer helps providers plan treatment and develop a potential prognosis or expected outcome.
Bladder cancer can be either early stage or invasive .
The stages range from TA to IV . In the earliest stages , the cancer is confined to the lining of your bladder or in the connective tissue just below the lining, but hasnt invaded the main muscle wall of your bladder.
Stages II to IV denote invasive cancer:
A more sophisticated and preferred staging system is TNM, which stands for tumor, node involvement and metastases. In this system:
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Treatment Of Stage Iv Bladder Cancer
For information about the treatments listed below, see the Treatment Option Overview section.
Treatment of stage IV bladder cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body may include the following:
- Urinary diversion or cystectomy as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
- External radiation therapy as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
- Urinary diversion or cystectomy as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
- Aclinical trial of new anticancer drugs.
Use our clinical trial search to find NCI-supported cancer clinical trials that are accepting patients. You can search for trials based on the type of cancer, the age of the patient, and where the trials are being done. General information about clinical trials is also available.
Bladder Cancer Risk Factors
Lets first consider some risks for bladder cancer.
Perhaps the most significant is smoking. Smokers are three times as likely as non-smokers to develop this disease. Age can also be a factor: Bladder cancer tends to appear after age 55, and the average age at onset is 75.
Men have about a 30 percent greater chance of developing it than women, and white people are twice as likely to contract it as Blacks or Hispanics.
A family history may also increase the risk, as well as the patients own prior history of bladder cancer, bladder infections, or repeated catheterizations. Certain medications and herbal supplements may add risk, including the diabetes medicine pioglitazone and herbs in the aristolochia family, such as birthwort and snakeroot. Arsenic in drinking water, as well as some workplace chemicalsspecifically aniline dye compoundsmay also contribute.
Our kidneys are continually at work, extracting waste products from the blood and excreting them in the form of urine. The bladder is the temporary holding tank, storing the urine until its expelled.
Because the kidneys are very efficient at removing toxins from the blood, the resulting urine may contain elements that are potentially hazardous to the bladder. For example, in smokers, those elements are absorbed within the lungs and enter the bloodstream. The kidneys release some toxins via urine, which makes contact with the inner wall of the bladder. These toxins can potentially alter DNA and cause cancer.
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