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What is bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the urinary bladder tissues and start to grow abnormally. The bladder is a hollow and flexible pouch in the lower part of the abdomen that holds urine coming from the kidneys before eventually pushing out from the urethra.

What are the types of Bladder Cancer?

The most common types of bladder cancer are as follows:

Urothelial carcinoma (transitional cell carcinoma)

is the most common type of bladder cancer that begins in the innermost lining of the bladder cells. The transitional tissues are capable to stretch full or shrink without becoming damaged. It can affect other parts of the urinary tract also.

Squamous cell carcinoma

is the rare type of cancer that occurs when thin and flat squamous cells are found on the surface of the skin. It is associated with prolonged infection or irritation in the bladder.


Cancer occurs when glandular cells are found in the bladder lining after long-term bladder irritation and inflammation. This is a very rare type of cancer.

What are the symptoms?

The most common signs and symptoms of bladder cancer are blood in the urine, painful urination, frequent urination, pain in the abdominal area and lower back.

What are the causes?

The exact causes of bladder cancer are unknown but some factors increase the risk of developing bladder cancer.

  • Smoking and using tobacco products increase the risk
  • Genetic makeup and family history of bladder cancer
  • Chronic bladder infections for a long period
  • Long-time exposure to paints, dyes, metals, or petroleum products in the workplace.
  • low fluid consumption
  • Drinking water with high levels of arsenic or chlorine content
  • Previous treatment with radiation therapy to the pelvis or consumption of certain drugs during chemotherapy.
  • Being older over the age of 55 years
  • Taking certain diabetes medications increase the chance of getting bladder cancer.

How is it diagnosed?

The following tests and procedures can be used to diagnose bladder cancer:

  • Physical exams to check general signs of disease, checking of patient's health history, illness and treatment are the initial methods.
  • A Urinalysis is to check the color of urine and the level of sugar, protein, red blood cells, and white blood cells in the urine.
  • Internal examination of the vagina and/or rectum by inserting gloved fingers to feel the growth of the lump.
  • Cystoscopy is used to look inside the bladder and urethra to check for abnormal growth. A cystoscope is a thin tube with a camera and lenses that take pictures of the inside.
  • A biopsy is used for the removal of cells or tissues to test for cancer.
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP) is a series of x-rays falling on kidneys, ureters, and bladder when the contrast dye moves through these parts. It is to check the presence of cancer in other organs of the body.
  • CT scan, MRI, PET scan, and Bone scan may be used to get detailed pictures of the internal area.

How is it treated?

In the diagnosis procedure, tests are done to find out the growth of cancer cells within the bladder lining or to the other organs.

Bladder cancer is described based on its appearance and position in the wall of the bladder. Cancer that is in the lining of the bladder is superficial and called non-invasive cancer. Cancer that has spread through the lining of the bladder and penetrated the muscle wall and has grown into deeper layers of the bladder wall is invasive.

Your doctor decides the treatment option based on the type and stage of your bladder cancer, your symptoms, and your overall health.

  • Stage 0 and stage 1 bladder cancer are found in tissue lining inside of the bladder that can be removed by surgery, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy
  • Stage 2 and stage 3 cancer has spread to the layers of muscle tissue of the bladder so the removal of part of the bladder or whole bladder is recommended. A new way for urine secretion is created through surgery.
  • Stage 4 cancer has spread from the bladder to other parts of the body, such as the lung, bone, or liver. Removal of the whole bladder through surgery followed by chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy to kill remaining cancer cells is done.

Bladder cancer often reoccurs so follow-up tests are mandatory. Cancer treatment can cause side effects or problems on the nearby organs. Bleeding, loss of appetite, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, hair loss, nausea, and vomiting are common issues faced by people after bladder surgery. Speak with your doctor about your concerns and take preventive measures to manage the side effects.


Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital

Address: Rao Saheb, Achutrao Patwardhan Marg, Four Bungalows, Andheri West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400053

Phone: +91-98 88 66 22 00

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