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Bladder Cancer

Bladder Cancer

Bladder CancerBladder cancer typically begins in the lining of your bladder, the balloon-shaped organ in your pelvis area that stores urine. Some bladder cancer remains confined to the lining, while other cases may invade other areas.

Most people who develop bladder cancer are older adults with more than 90 percent of cases occurring in people older than 55, and 50 percent of cases occurring in people older than 73. Smoking is the greatest single risk factor for bladder cancer. Treating bladder cancer that has spread can be difficult and can potentially involve extensive procedures. If your bladder cancer is detected early before it has spread beyond the lining of your bladder you have a better chance of successful treatment with minimal side effects.

Symptoms

Bladder cancer often doesn’t produce signs or symptoms in its early stages. The first warning sign is usually blood in your urine (hematuria). The blood may show up on a urine test, or your urine may appear reddish or darker than normal.

More common conditions including a urinary tract infection, kidney disease, kidney or bladder stones, and prostate problems can also cause hematuria. These conditions can also cause other symptoms similar to those of bladder cancer. If you develop any of the signs and symptoms below, your doctor can help determine the exact cause:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during urination
  • Frequent urination or feeling you need to urinate without being able to do so
  • Slowing of your urinary stream

Causes

Your bladder is a muscular, balloon-shaped organ located in your pelvis. It stores urine that your kidneys produce during the process of filtering your blood. Like a balloon, the bladder can get larger or smaller depending on the amount of urine it holds. Urine passes from your kidneys into your bladder through thin tubes called ureters and is eliminated from your body through another narrow tube, the urethra.

How Cancer Develops

Bladder CancerHealthy cells grow and divide in an orderly way. This process is controlled by DNA genetic material that contains the instructions for every chemical process in your body. When DNA is damaged, changes occur in these instructions. One result is that cells may begin to grow out of control and eventually form a tumor, a mass of malignant cells.

Most bladder cancers begin in the specialized cells that line the walls of your bladder (transitional cells). The same type of cells occurs in your kidneys, ureters and urethra where they may also give rise to malignant tumors. Below is a view of a bladder tumor discovered during outpatient cystoscopy.

Text from: Mayo Clinic

Image from: Cystoscopy