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Bladder Cancer


  • Cancer of the bladder is also called transitional cell carcinoma and originates from the cellular linings of the bladder.
  • It has no genetic susceptibility or tends to run in families
  • Various environmental factors lead to the development of this cancer. One major symptom is blood in the urine. 
  • Because of it high prevalence, screening is necessary for every man over the age 40.

Prevalence and Course

Bladder cancer is quite common among men and women. In the US, it is considered to be the fourth leading cancer in men while, in women it is the ninth most common cancer. Every year thousands of men and women are diagnosed with bladder carcinoma.

The increased risk in men is attributed to elevated activity of the androgen receptor as compared to that of women. Its incidence increases with age and is more common in people above the age of 50.


The bladder is a hollow muscular organ where urine is stored. The contraction of muscles of the bladder leads to the expulsion of urine.

The epithelium of the bladder is transitional epithelium, which is the main culprit for the development of cancer. Around 90 to 95% of bladder cancers are transitional cell carcinomas. The adenocarcinoma and the squamous cell carcinoma’s account for the remaining percentage of the bladder cancers.

Types of Cancer

These are based on the depth of invasion and include;

  • Superficial bladder cancer

    Cancer is confined to the lining of the bladder only.
  • Invasive bladder cancer

    If cancer goes beyond the depth of the bladder lining, it is termed invasive bladder cancer.
  • Metastatic bladder cancer

    It is the result of cancer of some other organ which in turn, involves the bladder.


The definite cause of bladder cancer is unknown. However, certain factors can lead to cancerous changes. These include smoking, bladder inflammation of a chronic nature, certain drugs, chemicals and certain dietary factors.

Signs and Symptoms

The characteristic symptom is a painless hematuria (blood in the urine). Other symptoms include pain during urination, urinary urgency, frequency, nocturia and a feeling of incomplete bladder emptying. These symptoms are not, however specific to bladder neoplasia and are also seen in benign bladder conditions.

Since it is a cancerous condition, a variety of other signs and symptoms may be seen such as weight loss, fatigue and malaise.

Diagnosing Bladder Cancer

Diagnosis is made on the basis of the history of a patient, clinical signs and symptoms as well as a physical examination. Certain tests are necessary to determine the nature of the mass as well as its histology; biopsies are therefore needed. Blood and urine tests are also necessary.

Treatment of Bladder Cancer

Treatment is mainly achieved through surgical excision of the mass from the bladder. Chemotherapy is also needed. Immunotherapy is done in the form of a BCG instillation which helps prevent the recurrence of a tumor which is superficial.

Other treatments are based on the grade and stage of the tumor keeping in mind the status of the patient.

Radiation therapy is also included in the treatment modality of bladder cancer.





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