Bladder cancer is defined as the uncontrolled growth of cells found in the bladder's innermost lining. The overgrowth results in tumors that may spread to the outer walls of the bladder. It can even spread to other parts of the body.
Bladder cancer is more common in men than women. It represents the fourth most common cancer in men in the United States. Risk factors include:
- Older age
- Family or personal history of bladder cancer
- Occupational exposure to certain chemicals
- Tobacco use
Patients who have risk factors or who experience symptoms should see their doctor. Those who have bladder cancer may experience a combination of the following symptoms:
- Painful and/or frequent urination
- Blood in the urine (gross hematuria)
- Back or abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
There are three main types of bladder cancer:
- Urothelial carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
Urothelial carcinoma (also known as transitional cell carcinoma) is the most common type of bladder cancer. It includes tumors found in the ureters (the tubes that connect the kidney to the bladder) and part of the kidney(s). There are two categories of urothelial carcinoma:
- Non-muscle invasive makes up most cases (75 percent) of bladder cancer. This occurs when the cancer is contained to the inner lining of the bladder wall.
- Muscle invasive occurs when the cancer has penetrated deeper layers of the bladder wall. The cancerous cells are more likely to spread beyond the bladder wall to other parts of the body. Muscle invasive bladder cancer may be harder to treat because it is less contained and more aggressive.