Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer among men, less common in women, and it affects 80,000 adults in the United States each year. Bladder cancer most often begins in the lining of the bladder and usually affects older adults, but it can happen at any age. On average, 7 out of every 10 bladder cancers diagnosed start out at an early stage, when this disease is highly treatable. However, even early-stage bladder cancer may relapse in the bladder. For this reason, people with bladder cancer typically need follow-up tests for years after treatment to look for any reoccurrence or advances to a higher stage.
Symptoms may include blood in urine, painful urination, pelvic pain, back pain or frequent urination. Some different procedures may be done to diagnose bladder cancer. A cystoscopy is performed by inserting a small, narrow tube through the urethra to allow a physician to see the inside of the bladder. During a cystoscopy, a small sample called a biopsy may be taken for further testing. Imaging tests and urine samples may also help in the diagnosis of bladder cancer.
Once bladder cancer has been detected, it is classified as either low-grade (more normal cell appearance and slow growing) or high-grade (abnormal cell appearance and fast growing). Treatment options for bladder cancer depend on several factors, including the type of cancer, grade of the cancer and stage of the cancer. Treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy. Reconstructive surgery may also be a course of treatment in the event the bladder is removed.
There are several risk factors associated with bladder cancer, including smoking or other tobacco use, increased age, being a white male, previous cancer treatments, chronic bladder inflammation and a family history of cancer.