Cancer Information

Bladder Cancer

Each year in the United States, bladder cancer is diagnosed in 38,000 men and 15,000 women. This is the fourth most common type of cancer in men and the eighth most common in women.

The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower abdomen. It stores urine that passes from each kidney into the bladder through ureter.

The wall of the bladder is lined with cells called transitional cells and squamous cells. More than 90 percent of bladder cancers begin in the transitional cells. This type of bladder cancer is called transitional cell carcinoma. About 8 percent of bladder cancer patients have squamous cell carcinomas.

Cancer that is only in cells in the lining of the bladder is called superficial bladder cancer. It is called carcinoma in situ. Cancer that begins as a superficial tumor may grow through the lining and into the muscular wall of the bladder. This is known as invasive cancer. Invasive cancer may extend through the bladder wall. It may grow into a nearby organ such as the uterus or vagina (in women) or the prostate gland (in men). It also may invade the wall of the abdomen.

When bladder cancer spreads outside the bladder, cancer cells are often found in nearby lymph nodes. If the cancer has reached these nodes, cancer cells may have spread to other lymph nodes or other organs, such as the lungs, liver, or bones. When cancer spreads (metastasizes) from its original place to another part of the body, the new tumor has the same kind of abnormal cells and the same name as the primary tumor.

Risk factors for bladder cancer:

Age - More common in older people. People under 40 rarely get this disease.

Tobacco- The use of tobacco is a major risk factor. Cigarette smokers are two to three times more likely than nonsmokers to get bladder cancer.

Occupation - Some workers have a higher risk of getting bladder cancer because of carcinogens in the workplace. Workers in the rubber, chemical, and leather industries are at risk. So are hairdressers, machinists, metal workers, printers, painters, textile workers, and truck drivers.

Infections- Infections with certain parasites increases the risk of bladder cancer.

Treatment with cyclophosphamide or exposure to arsenic - increase the risk of bladder cancer.

Race- Whites get bladder cancer twice as often as African Americans and Hispanics. The lowest rates are among Asians.

Sex- Men are two to three times more likely than women to get bladder cancer.

Family history- People with family members who have bladder cancer are more likely to get the disease.

Previous history of bladder cancer- People who have had bladder cancer have an increased chance of getting the disease again.

Saccharin- an artificial sweetener, causes bladder cancer in animals. However, research does not show that saccharin causes cancer in human beings.