Bladder Cancer

Specialists at Beaumont treat several hundred cases of bladder cancer each year. As part of a national program by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, has been named a Blue Distinction CenterSM for bladder cancer.

We offer counseling, diagnosis and exceptional care to patients with bladder cancer and their families. Blue Distinction Centers provide comprehensive cancer care, delivered by multidisciplinary teams with special training and clinical expertise in treating certain types of cancer. The centers were selected in collaboration with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), leading clinicians and professional organizations.

What is bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer occurs when there are abnormal, cancerous cells growing in the bladder. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), about 74,000 cases of bladder will be diagnosed in the US in 2015.

Bladder cancer affects men four times more often than women, and it occurs in Caucasians twice as often as in African-Americans. The risk of bladder cancer increases with age - over 70 percent of people who are diagnosed with it are older than 65.

The bladder is a triangle-shaped, hollow organ located in the lower abdomen. It is held in place by ligaments that are attached to other organs and the pelvic bones. The bladder's walls relax and expand to store urine, and contract and flatten to empty urine through the urethra. The typical healthy adult bladder can store up to two cups of urine for two to five hours.


What are the different types of bladder cancer?

There are several types of bladder cancers, including the following:

  • transitional cell (urothelial) carcinoma
    Transitional cell carcinoma is cancer that begins in the cells lining the bladder. Transitional cells also line the other parts of the urinary tract including the kidneys, ureters, and urethra. Transitional cell carcinoma is the most common kind of bladder cancer, occurring in about 90 percent of cases.
  • squamous cell carcinoma
    Squamous cell carcinoma is cancer that begins in squamous cells - thin, flat cells found in the tissue that form the surface of the skin, the lining of the hollow organs of the body, and the passages of the respiratory and digestive tracts. About 4 percent of bladder cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
  • adenocarcinoma
    Adenocarcinoma is cancer that begins in the cells of glandular structures lining certain organs in the body and then spreads to the bladder. Common primary sites for adenocarcinomas include the lung, pancreas, breast, prostate, stomach, liver, and colon. Adenocarcinomas account for only about 2 percent of bladder cancers.

What are the symptoms of bladder cancer?

The following are the most common symptoms of bladder cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • visible blood in the urine
  • hematuria - the presence of microscopic red blood cells (RBCs) in the urine.
  • painful urination
  • urgency - frequently feeling the need to urinate without results.
  • frequent urination
  • pelvic or flank pain

The symptoms of bladder cancer may resemble other medical conditions or problems.


What causes bladder cancer?

While the exact causes of bladder cancer are not known, there are well-established risk factors for developing the disease. Risk factors for bladder cancer include the following:

  • cigarette smoking Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for developing bladder cancer. Smoking causes about half of the deaths from bladder cancer among men, and less than one-third of bladder cancer deaths in women. The disease occurs in smokers twice as often as nonsmokers. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of bladder cancer, as well as several other types of cancer and diseases.
  • occupational exposure Certain occupations and work environments that expose workers to dyes and some organic chemicals appear to increase the risk for bladder cancer. Workers in the rubber, chemical, leather, textile, metal, and printing industries are exposed to substances such as aniline dye and aromatic amines that may increase their risk for bladder cancer. Other at-risk occupations include hairdressers, machinists, painters, and truck drivers (due to exposure to diesel fumes).
  • chronic bladder irritation Chronic bladder infections or bladder stones may be linked to certain types of bladder cancer.
  • age The risk for bladder cancer increases with age. Over 70 percent of people with bladder cancer are over age 65.
  • gender Bladder cancer occurs about four times more often in men than in women.
  • race Caucasians are twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as African-Americans and Hispanics. Asians have the lowest bladder cancer rates.
  • personal history of bladder cancer Individuals who have previously had bladder cancer have an increased risk of developing the disease again.
  • family history Individuals with family members who have had bladder cancer are more likely to develop the disease. Research is ongoing to determine specific genetic risks for bladder cancer.
  • parasite infections Infection with certain parasites found in tropical regions of the world, but not in the US, increases the risk of bladder cancer.