Patient Information


Bladder Cancer

Each year, almost 71,000 new cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed in this country. Men, Caucasians and smokers have twice the risk of bladder cancer as the general population. Almost all the people who develop bladder cancer are over 55 years old. When it is diagnosed and treated in the early stages, bladder cancer is usually highly treatable.

The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower abdomen. It stores urine, the waste that is produced when the kidneys filter the blood. The bladder has an elastic and muscular wall that allows it to get larger and smaller as urine is stored or emptied. Urine passes from the two kidneys into the bladder through tubes called ureters. Urine leaves the bladder through another tube called the urethra. The urethra is longer in men than women.

Bladder cancer begins in the inside layer of the bladder and grows into the walls, becoming more difficult to treat.

Bladder Cancer Types

Bladder cancer is classified based on the type of cells it contains. The main types of bladder cancer are:

  • Transitional cell bladder cancer: About 90% of bladder cancers are transitional cell carcinomas - cancers that begin in the urothelial cells, which line the inside of the bladder. Cancer that is confined to the lining of the bladder is called non-invasive bladder cancer.
  • Squamous cell bladder cancer: This type of bladder cancer begins in squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells that may form in the bladder after long-term infection or irritation. These cancers occur less often than transitional cell cancers, but they may be more aggressive.
  • Adenocarcinoma: Bladder cancer that develops in the inner lining of the bladder as a result of chronic irritation and inflammation. This type of bladder cancer tends to be aggressive