Bladder cancer is an abnormal growth of tissue in the bladder. The bladder is the balloon-like sac in the pelvis. It collects and stores urine that comes from the kidneys through the ureters. The bladder wall is made of layers. If cancer spreads into these layers and through the wall of the bladder, it becomes more difficult to treat.
- Workplace risks (occupational exposures), such as rubber, leather, textile, dyes, chemicals, and paint.
- Being white.
- Your age. Most people with bladder cancer are over the age of 55.
- Being male.
- Having chronic bladder inflammation.
- Having a personal history of bladder cancer.
- Having a family history of bladder cancer (heredity).
- Having had chemotherapy or radiation therapy to the pelvis.
- Having been exposed to arsenic.
Initial symptoms of this condition include:
- Blood in the urine.
- Painful urination.
- Frequent bladder or urine infections.
- Increase in urgency and frequency of urination.
Advanced symptoms of this condition include:
- Not being able to urinate.
- Low back pain on one side.
- Loss of appetite.
- Weight loss.
- Swelling in the feet.
- Bone pain.
- Your medical history.
- A physical exam.
- Urine tests.
- Lab tests.
- Imaging tests.
- Cystoscopy using a narrow tube inserted into your bladder through your urethra to view the lining of your bladder for tumors.
- Biopsy to sample the tumor to see if cancer is present.
- Staging will determine the cancer’s size, severity and extent. Tests may include:
- Blood tests.
- Imaging tests, such as a CT scan, MRI, bone scan, or chest X-ray.
Based on the stage of cancer, one treatment or a combination of treatments may be recommended.
- Removing the cancer using either transurethral resection and cystectomy.
- Radiation therapy:
- Using high-energy X-rays or other particles. This treatment is often used in combination with chemotherapy.
- Medicines are used to kill cancer cells.
- This uses medicines to help your own immune system destroy cancer cells.
Follow these instructions at home:
- Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as directed by your health care provider.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Some of your treatments might affect your appetite.
- Consider joining a support group, which may help you learn to cope with the stress of having bladder cancer.
- Tell your cancer care team if you develop side effects. They may be able to recommend ways to relieve them.
- Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider.
Contact a health care provider if:
- You have symptoms of a urinary tract infection.
- Muscle aches.
- Abdominal pain.
- Frequent and intense urge to urinate.
- Burning feeling in the bladder or urethra during urination.
Seek immediate treatment if:
- There is blood in your urine.
- You cannot urinate.
- You have severe pain or other symptoms that do not go away.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider.