Cancer of the bladder affects approximately 83,000 adults in the U.S. each year, making it the fourth most common cancer in men. It’s less common in women but does affect around 19,000 of them annually. About 50% of bladder cancer cases are diagnosed early, when it is highly treatable.
Bladder cancer most often begins in the cells (urothelial cells) that line the inside of your bladder, but this same type of cancer can occur in other parts of the urinary tract system.
Types of Bladder Cancer
The cells in which bladder cancer develops determine the type of cancer and which treatments work best. Some bladder cancers develop in more than one type of cell, but this is rare.
Urothelial carcinoma is the most common type of bladder cancer in the U.S. It begins in the urothelial cells, which line the inside of the bladder and expand and contract with the fullness of the bladder.
Squamous cell carcinoma is associated with chronic irritation of the bladder. The irritation can occur due to an infection, long-term catheter use, or a parasite. Because of this, it’s less common in the U.S. and more common in other areas of the world where bladder infections are caused by certain parasites.
Adenocarcinoma begins in cells that make up mucus-secreting glands in the bladder. It’s also rare in the U.S.
Signs and Symptoms
Common signs of bladder cancer include:
- Blood in urine (hematuria)
- Painful urination
- Pelvic pain
- Back pain
- Frequent urination
All of the above symptoms can also be signs of other, less serious conditions such as a UTI or kidney infection. However, if you have blood in your urine or have more than one of these symptoms, you should see a doctor.
Causes of Bladder Cancer
As with any cancer, bladder cancer develops when cells begin to grow abnormally into mutations. These cell mutations continue to grow and eventually form tumors. The cause of bladder cancer is not always evident in every case, but some risk factors include:
- Smoking and other tobacco use
- Exposure to chemicals, especially working in a job that requires exposure to chemicals
- Past radiation exposure
- Chronic irritation of the lining of the bladder
- Parasitic infections, especially in people who are from or have traveled to certain areas outside the United States
If you suspect you may have bladder cancer, or if you are experiencing hematuria or any combination of the common signs of bladder cancer, schedule an appointment with the Urology specialists at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston.