Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer refers to cancer that develops in the cells lining the walls of the bladder, an expandable hollow organ that collects the urine produced by the kidneys.

Bladder cancer is diagnosed in about 70,500 Americans each year – typically more men than women. About 90 percent of those diagnosed with bladder cancer are over age 55. 90 percent of bladder cancers are a form called urothelial carcinoma (formerly known as transitional cell carcinoma). The majority of these cases are discovered in the early stages when the disease has not penetrated deeply into the walls of the bladder. A small percentage of patients have a more aggressive and advanced form of urothelial carcinoma, which has already grown into the walls of the bladder or has spread to other organs when it is discovered.

Risk Factors

Smoking is the most significant risk factor with smokers at double the risk over non-smokers for developing bladder cancer. Exposure to certain workplace chemicals such as those used in the production of rubber, leather, textiles, paint, and printing materials increases risk. As does having a bladder defect, a history of bladder infections or irritation, a family history of bladder cancer or carrying certain genes, exposure to radiation or use of the chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), drinking water with arsenic, and not drinking enough liquid (low urination) to consistently "clean" the bladder. Caucasians are more likely to develop bladder cancer than people of other races.


Symptoms of bladder cancer may include blood in the urine, frequent urination, and pain during urination. However, these symptoms can also represent conditions other than bladder cancer and patients should see a doctor to determine the cause.


In determining if a patient has bladder cancer doctors are likely to conduct a physical exam and urine test. They may also examine the inside of the bladder using a thin lighted tube (cystoscopy), and take a biopsy of a tumor (if found) for examination by a pathologist.


Physicians determine the best treatment approach for each patient with bladder cancer by taking into account the type, location, and stage of the disease as well as the patient's age and physical health. Our physicians may treat bladder cancer patients with surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapies, or a combination of these.



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