Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that begins in your bladder - a hollow, muscular organ that stores urine. Bladder cancer begins in the lining of the bladder but can grow into the muscle layer. Cigarette smoking is the strongest risk factor for bladder cancer. Other risk factors include exposure to chemicals such as dyes and rubber by-products. 

Bladder cancer affects almost 70,000 people in the United States each year. It normally affects older adults, and is more frequent in men than women. Around 65% of bladder cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage. If found early, this cancer is often highly treatable.   

What is Bladder Cancer?

The bladder is a hollow organ that is made to hold your urine before it leaves the body. It sits in your lower abdomen and is about the size and shape of a pear when it is empty. Bladder cancer occurs when normal cells in the bladder begin to grow out of control. Tumors form when these cells grow together and form a mass. As more of these cancer cells grow, they begin to spread throughout the bladder and sometimes to other parts of the body.   

Types of Bladder Cancer

Urothelial Carcinoma (Transitional Cell Carcinoma)
Urothelial Carcinoma is the most common type of bladder cancer. It begins in urothelial cells, which are the cells that line the inside of the bladder. This type of cancer is divided into two subtypes: papillary and flat. Papillary carcinomas begin in the tissues that line the inside of the bladder and grow towards the hollow center of the bladder. Flat carcinomas also begin in the tissues that line the inside of the bladder, but do not grow towards the center of the bladder.  Instead, the cancerous cells remain on the surface of the bladder wall. 

Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is a rarer form of bladder cancer, making up only 1-2% of all diagnosed bladder cancers. Irritation and inflammation of the epithelial lining of the bladder can change the cells to squamous over time. Further irritation or exposure to cancer-causing factors can lead to the development of squamous cell carcinoma. 

Adenocarcinoma only affects approximately 1% of all cases of bladder cancer. This type of cancer starts in the glands that line the inside of the bladder. The cells in the glands begin to grow out of control and may spread to other parts of the urinary tract.