Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is one of the rarest forms of cancer. It is more prevalent in males as compared to the females. The bladder is that muscular organ which is present in the lower portion of the abdomen and stores urine before it is being excreted out of the body. The kidneys are responsible for generating the urine which is carried by the tubes called ureters to the bladder from which it is excreted through the urethra. All of them together constitute the urinary system.

In a majority of the cases, bladder cancer originates from the cells present in the outer lining of the bladder. Such cells generally originate in the bladder, however, they may be found in any other part of the urinary tract drainage system as well. These cells slowly develop into tumours which may slowly spread to the fats and tissues present nearby. As the stages progress, these tumours turn cancerous and spread to even the distant parts of the body.

Types of Bladder Cancer:

Urothelial carcinoma:

It is the most common form of bladder cancer.  It can occur in any part of the urinary system be it the renal pelvis, bladder, ureters or even urethra. The urothelium cells from the inner lining of the bladders, ureters, renal pelvis. When these cells turn cancerous, then the individual develops urothelial carcinoma.

Non-muscle invasive (superficial or early) bladder cancer:

It is the type in which the cancer is still in its early stages and the cancerous cells have spread only to the lining of the bladder. The cancerous cells appear as small growths which appear as mushrooms. These grow throughout the entire length of the bladder lining. It is also known as papillary bladder cancer.

CIS or carcinoma in situ: CIS:

CIS is generally flat. It does not spread to the bladder walls. The cancerous cells look quite abnormal and they grow quickly. It is a high-grade form of cancer. Once treated, these cancerous cells are likely to come back again.

High-grade T1 tumours:

T1 tumours fall under the category of superficial cancers in which the cancerous cells develop in the bladder lining and spread to the underneath layer known as lamina propria. Although superficial, these tumours grow rapidly and have high chances of coming back.

Invasive bladder cancer:

It is the type of bladder cancer in which the transitional cells turn invasive. It means that the cancerous cells have spread to the deeper layers of the bladder. Invasive bladder cancer requires better treatment as compared to superficial bladder cancer.

Squamous cell carcinoma :

It is the second most common form of bladder cancer. It is characterized by an abnormal growth of squamous cells which are present in the epidermis. People suffering from this condition develop scaly red patches and open sores which may either form crust or may bleed.


It is the rarest form of bladder cancer and hardly affects 2% of the population. This cancer is formed in the mucus-secreting glands present all over the body.

Bladder Cancer Symptoms:

- Pain or a burning sensation during urination followed by frequent urination. The symptoms of bladder cancer are quite similar to the symptoms of urinary tract infection (UTI).

- Blood in the urine is one of the first symptoms of bladder cancer. At times, the blood content is so high that it gives the urine a pinkish or blood red texture. However, at times the colour of the urine is normal and blood is excreted in the form of blood clots.  The spotting of blood is not regular. While you may see blood in the urine one day, it may be absent on the other days.

- Pain on the lower back on one side of the body. Pain is generally associated with advanced cases of bladder cancer. Immediately consult a doctor if you have severe pain in your back, abdomen or pelvic region.

- Feeling the urge to urinate, many a time during the night. Individuals suffering from bladder cancer feel the need to urinate more often than usual however they are often unable to excrete the urine.

Causes of Bladder Cancer


- Smoking is one of the main factors which trigger bladder cancer. The more exposure you have to smoke, the higher are the rates of your developing a bladder cancer.

- Cigarette contains a high content of toxic chemicals which are also known as cancer-causing substances or carcinogens.

- After the lungs absorb these carcinogens, the blood transfers them to kidneys so as to filter the chemicals out of the body through the urine. At this point, these harmful chemicals come in contact with the inner lining of the organs of the urinary system and affect the cells adversely thereby causing them to turn cancerous.

- However, the risks of developing a bladder cancer decrease to a great extent once you quit smoking, however, a previous history of smoking will certainly increase your chances of developing a bladder cancer.

Age and Gender:

- Bladder cancer mainly affects people who are above the age of 55.

- In some exceptional cases, people in their 30s and 40s have fallen prey to this disease.

- Men are more prone to developing this disease as compared to the women as smoking and doing drugs is more prevalent in males as compared to the females.  However, bladder cancer can be hereditary as well.

Exposure to toxins:

- Continued exposure to the toxic chemicals like phenols, arsenic etc. increases the chances of developing a bladder cancer.

- Radiation therapy conducted to treat various forms of cancers like cervix cancer pose a threat towards developing bladder cancer.

- In case you are suffering from long-term chronic infections like that in the bladder, or if you have Long-term chronic infections of the bladder, irritation due to stones or foreign bodies, then you are more prone to developing a bladder cancer.

Bladder Cancer Diagnosis :

Below mentioned are the various tests and procedures conducted to diagnose bladder cancer:


In order to perform a cystoscopy, the physicist inserts a small tube which is narrow in shape known as the cystoscope through the urethra. This cystoscope is provided with a small lens which enables the doctor to have a clear view of the interior portion of the urethra and the bladder so as to examine it for any kind of medical ailments.


While performing cystoscopy, the doctor passes the cystoscope through the bladder to collect a biopsy which is the cell sample used for diagnosing various diseases. This procedure is also known as transurethral resection of a bladder tumour (TURBT) at times.

Urine cytology:

In this procedure, the doctor uses your urine sample for conducting various diagnosis test in order to find any trace of cancer cells in your body.

Imaging tests:

Various imaging devices like computerized tomography (CT) urogram or retrograde pyelogram are used which helps the doctor to examine the various parts of the urinary system in order to diagnose the bladder cancer.

Prevention From Bladder Cancer:

There is no sure way in which bladder cancer can be treated. Some of the risk factors like the age, gender and family history cannot be controlled. However, there are various ways in which it can be prevented.

Quit Smoking:

Almost 90% of the bladder cancers are triggered by smoking. Once you quit smoking, your risk of developing cancer decreases to a great extent.

Limit exposure to toxic chemicals

The industrial workers who work with toxic chemicals pose a greater risk of suffering from bladder cancer. In case, you work in such a place, then it is advised that you follow the safety rules properly.

Even certain chemicals present in the hair dyes might prove to be harmful. Hence, the barbers and hairdressers should extensively follow safety measures and adhere themselves to the use of such chemicals.

Diesel also contains toxic materials which may trigger various forms of cancer. Hence the individuals who have a continuous exposure to diesel pose a greater threat of suffering from bladder cancer. They should try their best to limit the exposure.

Consume lots of liquid foods:

According to various researches conducted, drinking water and fluids and consuming liquid foods in a high content can lower the risks of developing bladder cancer.

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables

Consuming fruits and vegetables on a regular basis will provide the required vitamins and minerals to your body and thus help you to combat cancer.

Bladder Cancer Treatment :


Surgery is one of the most sought-after treatments for bladder cancer. In this, the tumour along with some of the neighbouring healthy tissues is removed during the operation. Below mentioned are the various surgery options.

-  Transurethral bladder tumour resection (TURBT): In this, the surgeon inserts the cystoscope in the bladder and removes a tumour with the help of either a small tool or a fulguration.

-  Cystectomy and lymph node dissection :  In this procedure, the surgeon removes the entire bladder and the surrounding tissues and organs.

-  Urinary diversion :  Once your bladder has been removed, there needs to be a passage for the excretion of urine. Hence with this technique, the surgeons create a new passage for expelling out the urine.


Chemotherapy is the technique used to kill the cancerous cells with the help of drugs. These drugs mainly inhibit the ability of the cancerous cells to grow and divide further.

Generally, there are two types of chemotherapy which are used to treat bladder cancer. They are:

-  Intravesical chemotherapy : Intravesical chemotherapy is mainly done by a urologist. In this treatment, the drugs are carried to the bladder with the help of a catheter which has been inserted into the bladder through the urethra

-  Systemic chemotherapy : Systemic chemotherapy is mainly carried out by a medical oncologist


Immunotherapy is also known as biologic therapy. It is a type of treatment which boosts the natural defences of the body and makes it able to fight against diseases like cancer.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy makes use of the high-energy X-rays or other such related particles to kill the cancerous cells. Doctors who specialize in this field are known as a radiation oncologist.  Radiation therapies are of two types. If the radiation therapy is given with the help of a machine outside the body, then it is known as external-beam radiation therapy.  However, when radiation therapy is provided with the help of implants, it is known as internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy.

Complications in Bladder Cancer :

-  Urinary diversion

In case your bladder has been removed due to a radical cystectomy, urinary diversion needs to be done for making an alternative way for the release of urine.

-  Urostomy

It is one of the most common types of operation done for urinary diversion. In this operation, the surgeon creates a hole in the abdominal wall known as a stoma.

-  Continent urinary diversion

It is quite similar to urostomy. However, in this, the pouch is not required. A portion of your bowel is used to form an internal pouch where your urine will be stored.

-  Bladder reconstruction

Once your bladder has been removed, the surgeons construct a new bladder known as a neobladder. It is a balloon-like sac which is connected to the ureters at one end and urethra at the other.

Myths about Bladder Cancer :

Myth #1: If you feel the urge to go to the bathroom more than two times during the night, you are suffering from some ailment: The reason behind this can be as simple as drinking a lot of water before going to the bed.

Myth #2: You should drink at least 8 glasses of water every day: Drink only when you feel thirsty and drink as much as it is needed for your body to stay hydrated.

Myth #3: Kegels are only for women: Kegels or the bladder controlling exercises can be performed by the males as well.

Myth #4: Bladder problems are normal: Bladder ailments are not the fact of life. If you are suffering from even the smallest of problems related to your bladder, seek the help of a doctor at the earliest.


Bladder cancer is undoubtedly one of the most malignant diseases. It is a medical ailment which affects the entire urinary system and it is considered the second most common genitourinary cancer. Smoking of cigarette is considered as the major cause of bladder cancer. Quitting smoking can reduce the risks of developing bladder cancer to a great extent.

Last updated on : 21-09-2018

Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.

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