Did You Know?
- Bladder Cancer is the 5th most common cancer in the United States and the 9th most common cancer in the world today.
- 70,000 Americans will be diagnosed with bladder cancer each year.
- The chance of having bladder cancer is about 1 in 26 for men and 1 in 86 for women.
- Although the incidence of bladder cancer is higher among men, it is increasing in both men and women.
- Nationally, bladder cancer has the highest cost per patient of all cancers from diagnosis to death, an estimated $4 billion in direct costs annually.
What is Bladder Cancer?
Bladder cancer is a form of cancer that begins in your bladder — a balloon-shaped organ in your pelvic area that stores urine. Cancer begins most often in the cells that line the inside of the bladder.
Bladder tumors are classified based on how the cells look under a microscope. The type of bladder cancer you have can affect your treatment options because each type may respond differently to treatment.
Types of Bladder Cancer:
- Urothelial cell carcinoma (also known as transitional cell carcinoma)
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Small cell carcinoma
- Other rare variants (<1%)
About 95% of all bladder cancers can be classified as urothelial cell carcinoma (UCC). Cancer can also grow in other places in the urinary tract, such as the lining of the kidney (called the renal pelvis), the ureters (muscular tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder), and the urethra (tube that connects the urinary bladder to the genitals). When someone is found to have a cancer in one part of their urinary system, the entire urinary tract needs to be checked for tumors.
The most common symptom of bladder cancer is hematuria - the presence of blood in the urine. Approximately 85% of bladder cancer patients will have either microscopic or macroscopic (visibly red by the human eye) hematuria. Other potential but less common symptoms include frequent urination, painful urination, urinary tract infection, abdominal pain or back pain.
It is important to note that although over one million individuals will be diagnosed with hematuria each year only 1 – 3% of them will have bladder cancer. There are many causes for blood in the urine so hematuria does not always mean cancer. Additional testing is required to properly diagnosis the cause of the hematuria.
Detection and Monitoring
The doctor will perform a physical examination, which may include a rectal and pelvic exam. There are additional test options for patients suspected to have bladder cancer. This may include the following:
- Urine Cytology – urine is examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells that may have been shed into the urine from the bladder lining.
Molecular Diagnostic Tests
- Tests that detect biomarkers associated with bladder cancer.
Testing with Imaging
- Ultrasounds, CT scans (computed tomography), MRI scans (magnetic resonance imaging), and IVP (intravenous pylogram) – can all detect irregularities in the bladder wall, which would suggest a possible cancer.
- An invasive procedure allowing the urologist to visually examine the inside of the bladder and remove samples of any suspicious areas for biopsy.
- Parkin DM. The Global Burden of Urinary Bladder Cancer. Scandinavian Journal of Urology and Nephrology Supplementum 2008 Sep; (218): 12-20.
- Ries LAG, Melbert D, Krapcho M, Stinchcomb DG, Howlader N, Horner MJ, Mariotto A, Miller BA, Feuer EJ, Altekruse SF, Lewis DR, Clegg L, Eisner MP, Reichman M, Edwards BK (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2005, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2005/, based on November 2007 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, 2008.
- American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2009. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2009.
- Edwards, BK , et. al. Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2006, Featuring Colorectal Cancer Trends and Impact of Interventions (Risk Factors, Screening, and Treatment) to Reduce Future Rates. J Natl Cancer Inst 2010;(116): 544 – 573.
- American Cancer Society: www.cancer.org