Bladder Cancer

Bladder Cancer

Bladder Cancer

What is Bladder Cancer?

An abnormal growth of cells that starts invading the normal cells around it is called Cancer. When these abnormal tumor cells are present in the bladders, they lead to bladder cancer. These are malignant tumours. Cancer cells can also cause benign tumors sometimes grow large enough to cause problems, but they do not grow into nearby tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. The patient can usually be cured with surgery.

Anatomy of Bladder

Bladder Cancer Anatomy

The above image is used for educational purpose only.

What are the general symptoms of Bladder Cancer?

General symptoms of bladder cancer include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Changes in bladder habits or symptoms of irritation
  • Bladder cancer can sometimes cause changes in urination, such as:
  • Having to urinate more often than usual
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Feeling as if you need to go right away, even when the bladder is not full

Symptoms of advanced bladder canc

  • Being unable to urinate
  • Lower back pain on one side
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Swelling in the feet
  • Bone pain

These signs and symptoms of bladder cancer can also be caused by other conditions, including other bladder problems. However, it's important to get it checked so that the cause can be treated

What are the general causes of Bladder cancer?

Some of the causes and risk-factors for bladder Cancer include:


  • Smoking – Smokers are three times more likely to get bladder cancer than non-smokers.
  • Race and ethnicity - Whites are about twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as African Americans.
  • A ge  - The risk of bladder cancer increases with age.
  • Gender Bladder cancer is much more common in men than in women.
  • Chronic bladder irritation and infections
  • Personal history of bladder or other urothelial cancer
  • Bladder birth defects
  • Genetics and family history
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • Arsenic in drinking water
  • Low Fluid Consumption
Can Bladder Cancer be prevented?

Most bladder cancers can be prevented by decreasing a person’s exposure to the risk factors listed under the “Causes” section.

What are the stages of bladder cancer?

Cancer has different stages, each depicted by a Roman numeral from 1 to 4 (I, II, III and IV). Stage I is the first stage where the tumor is still small while at Stage IV, the patient’s condition is said to be critical because the tumor  has spread to other organs of the body. Hence, a cancer’s stage refers to the tumor’s size and extent of spread. This is the simplest form of staging.


In bladder cancer, the stage depends on whether it is confined to bladders (localized cancer, Stage I) or whether it has spread to other organs (metastatic cancer).


The stage decides the kind of treatment you need to get. The greater the stage number, the more complex the treatment.

Survival rates of bladder cancer?

Needless to say, if the bladder cancer is detected while it is still in Stage I, survival rate is higher. The rate decreases progressively with the increase in stage. Stage III is considered critical, while stage IV is, more often than not, fatal.

The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Of course, many people live much longer than 5 years (and many are cured).

The numbers below are based on thousands of people diagnosed with bladder cancer from 1988 to 2001. These numbers come from the National Cancer Institute's SEER database.

Stage Relative 5-year survival rate
0 98%
I 88%
II 63%
III 46%
IV 15%
Can bladder Cancer be detected early?

Your medical history and a physical exam to check for risk factors can help determine, to some extent, whether you have or are prone to bladder cancer.

If symptoms and/or the results of the physical exam suggest you might have bladder cancer, other tests will probably be done.


Screening tests or exams are used to look for a disease in people who have no symptoms (and who have not had that disease before).

Tests that might be used to screen for bladder cancer


  • Urinalysis
  • Urine cytology
  • Urine tests for tumor markers
What are the Treatments available?

The main types of treatment for bladder cancer are:

  • Surgery
  • Intravesical therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy

Surgery, alone or with other treatments, is used in nearly all cases.

How frequently should one visit doctor for early diagnosis?

If you have any of the symptoms, please do visit the doctor.

How can I as a patient know it early?

If you feel any of the symptoms mentioned in the Symptoms section , you should probably visit a doctor. You can also get your genetic make-up checked to see if you are prone to bladder cancer or not.

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