What is Bladder Cancer
The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower part of the abdomen that stores urine until it is passed out of the body.
The most common type of bladder cancer is transitional cell carcinoma, which begins in urothelial cells that line the inside of the bladder. Urothelial cells are transitional cells, which are able to change shape and stretch when the bladder is full. This type of cancer is also called urothelial carcinoma. Other types of bladder cancer include squamous cell carcinoma (cancer that begins in thin, flat cells lining the bladder) and adenocarcinoma (cancer that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids).
People who smoke have an increased risk of bladder cancer. Being exposed to certain chemicals and having chronic bladder infections can also increase the risk of bladder cancer.
The most common sign of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. Bladder cancer is often diagnosed at an early stage, when the cancer is easier to treat.
A Snapshot of Bladder Cancer
Although urinary bladder cancer incidence rates are much higher in whites than in African Americans, mortality rates are only slightly higher, due in large part to the later stage at diagnosis among African Americans. Incidence and mortality rates for Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and Asians/Pacific Islanders are lower than those for whites and African Americans. Incidence and mortality rates have changed very little for most racial and ethnic groups over the past 20 years, with the exception of African Americans, for whom mortality has been decreasing. Overall, men are about four times more likely than women to be diagnosed with bladder cancer. Since 2001, mortality rates have been stable in men and slowly declining in women.
Smoking is the most important risk factor for bladder cancer. Other risk factors include having a family history of or gene mutations linked to bladder cancer, occupational exposure to certain chemicals used in processing paint, dye, metal and petroleum products, taking certain chemotherapy drugs, drinking well water contaminated with arsenic, taking the Chinese herb Aristolochia fangchi, and chronic urinary tract infections (including those caused by Schistosoma haematobium). Although there is no standard or routine screening test for bladder cancer, cystoscopy (a procedure used to see inside the urinary bladder and urethra) and urine cytology (a test to look for abnormal cells in urine) are used in patients who have previously had bladder cancer. Standard treatments for bladder cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and biological therapy.
Assuming that incidence and survival rates follow recent trends, it is estimated that $4.1 billion1 will be spent on bladder cancer care in the United States in 2014.