Bladder Cancer



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All About Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer typically begins in the lining of your bladder, the balloon-shaped organ in your pelvic area that stores urine. Some bladder cancer remains confined to the lining, while other cases may invade other areas.

Most people who develop bladder cancer are older adults – more than 90 percent of cases occur in people older than 55, and 50 percent of cases occur in people older than 73.

Newly diagnosed with Bladder Cancer? Please start your education here.

Vital to helping you understand your bladder cancer and manage your care is keeping track of important phone numbers, treatment history, side effects, and laboratory results, such as your complete blood count (CBC). Use these tools to help organize this information so you can be an active participant in your cancer care. Keep them handy for use at home and bring them along to your doctor visits and other medical appointments.

  1. Important Contacts
  2. Health and treatment history
  3. Copies of reports – Blood tests, Pathology reports, etc
  4. Calendar
  5. Progress
  6. Questions
  7. Insurance

Understanding Bladder Cancer – An Introduction

The word cancer refers to changes in the body’s cells that cause them to grow out of control. These cells can grow very fast and spread, eventually crowding out normal cells and damaging entire systems of the body.

Your bladder is a hollow organ in the lower abdomen. It stores urine, the liquid waste made by the kidneys.

Your bladder is part of the urinary tract. Urine passes from each kidney into the bladder through a long tube called a ureter. Urine leaves the bladder through a shorter tube (the urethra).

The wall of the bladder has layers of tissue:

  • Inner layer: The inner layer of tissue is also called the lining. As your bladder fills up with urine, the transitional cells on the surface stretch. When you empty your bladder, these cells shrink.
  • Middle layer: The middle layer is muscle tissue. When you empty your bladder, the muscle layer in the bladder wall squeezes the urine out of your body.
  • Outer layer: The outer layer covers the bladder. It has fat, fibrous tissue, and blood vessels.

Bladder location in men and women.

This picture shows the bladder and nearby organs in a man and woman

Photos from Cancer.Gov


Bladder cancer may cause these common symptoms:

  • Finding blood in your urine (which may make the urine look rusty or darker red)
  • Feeling an urgent need to empty your bladder
  • Having to empty your bladder more often than you used to
  • Feeling the need to empty your bladder without results
  • Needing to strain (bear down) when you empty your bladder
  • Feeling pain when you empty your bladder

These symptoms may be caused by bladder cancer or by other health problems, such as an infection. People with these symptoms should tell their doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.


Treatment options for people with bladder cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, biological therapy, and radiation therapy. You may receive more than one type of treatment.

The treatment that’s right for you depends mainly on the following:

  • The location of the tumor in the bladder
  • Whether the tumor has invaded the muscle layer or tissues outside the bladder
  • Whether the tumor has spread to other parts of the body
  • The grade of the tumor
  • Your age and general health

You may have a team of specialists to help plan your treatment. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist, or you may ask for a referral. You may want to see a urologist, a surgeon who specializes in treating problems in the urinary tract. Other specialists who treat bladder cancer include urologic oncologists (surgeons who specialize in cancers of the urinary tract), medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists.

Reliable Links:

Mayo Clinic

What you find here: The Mayo Clinic is an established medical center. The Bladder cancer section is easy to scroll through. High level overviews of everything related to symptoms, causes, screening, treatment etc are available.

American Society of Clinical Oncology

What you find here

This site has good information on many cancer types. The data is medically reviewed and dated so you know how current each section is. This site is a very good starting point for your Bladder cancer information

Cancer Risk Test

What you can find here: Washington University School of Medicine has created a website that provides the Harvard medical schools interactive tool to determine your risk of getting cancer. Questionnaire is available in English and Spanish. Documentation says it is more accurate for persons over 40 years old. You need to fill out a simple questionnaire for each of the 12 types of cancer listed. The site also has a test for risks of heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and stroke. Under the tab Risk Factors click on Family History for a number of worthwhile topics.In the Resources & Materials section they have a brochure for colorectal cancer in 8 languages. In the risk factors section click on vitamins. It is worth reading.

National Institute of Health – Cancer Institute

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is one of 11 agencies that compose the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The NCI, established under the National Cancer Institute Act of 1937, is the Federal Government’s principal agency for cancer research and training. This website has information about most common cancers, statistics and clinical trials.