What is Bladder Cancer?
Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the bladder, which is a hollow, muscular organ located in the lower abdomen. Its primary function is to store urine produced by the kidneys until it is ready to be expelled from the body through the urethra.
There are several types of bladder cancer, but the most common type is transitional cell carcinoma (also known as urothelial carcinoma), which originates in the cells lining the inside of the bladder. Other types include squamous cell carcinoma (develops in thin, flat cells), adenocarcinoma (arises from glandular cells), and small cell carcinoma (a rare and aggressive form).
What Are the Symptoms of Bladder Cancer?
- Blood in the urine. This is the most common symptom.
- Having to urinate often.
- Pain while urinating.
- Back pain.
- Pelvic pain.
These symptoms can also come from other conditions. If you have any of them, talk to your doctor, which is the only way to find out what may be causing them.
What Causes Bladder Cancer?
Smoking is the most important risk factor for bladder cancer. Other risk factors include—
- Having a family history of bladder cancer.
- Having certain gene mutations (unusual changes made when your body’s cells are dividing).
- Being exposed to too much of certain workplace chemicals [PDF-4.7MB] used in processing paint, dye, metal, and petroleum products.
- Taking some kinds of chemotherapy drugs.
- Drinking well water contaminated with arsenic.
- Taking the Chinese herb Aristolochia fangchi.
- Having chronic urinary tract infections (including those caused by Schistosoma haematobium).