The bladder is a hollow organ that stores urine. It is made up of four layers, the innermost of which is lined with cells called urothelial cells. Most forms of bladder cancer begin in these cells. Bladder cancer can take several different forms, but the most common type is called transitional cell carcinoma. There are four subcategories of transitional cell carcinoma:
- Papillary cancers – growths like fingers that reach out toward the hollow center of the organ
- Flat cancers – cancer that remain on the bladder wall
- Invasive tumors – tumors that grow into other layers of the bladder wall
- Non-invasive tumors – tumors that remain on the innermost layer of the bladder wall
Other forms of bladder cancer include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and small-cell carcinoma.
Bladder Cancer Risk Factors
The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 72,570 new cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed in the United States annually. Of these, about 15,210 people will likely die of bladder cancer. This form of cancer is relatively rare in children.
The following factors increase the risk for developing the most common type of bladder cancer, transitional cell carcinoma:
- Being a man
- Being over the age of 55
- Being Caucasian
- Exposure to certain chemicals
- Having chronic bladder infections
- Having a family history of bladder cancer
Signs & Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
Although not always indicative of bladder cancer, the following signs and symptoms may mean that you should visit your doctor and get checked:
- Blood in the urine
- Changes in bladder habits
- Inability to urinate
- Lower back pain
- Bladder pain
Bladder Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment
Tests for bladder cancer can take a variety of forms, from a physical examination to diagnostic imaging. Other tests include:
- High field open MRI
- Urine cytology exam
Bladder cancer is primarily treated with some combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Bladder Cancer Education, Screenings & Treatment at BayCare
BayCare is proud to offer a variety of cancer services throughout Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg and all of Tampa Bay. Call (855) 314-8346 for a physician referral or find a doctor near you.