• Cancer InDepth: Bladder Cancer

    Bladder cancer is an abnormal and unregulated growth of the cells that make up the urinary bladder.
    The urinary bladder is a hollow muscular organ located in the pelvic cavity. In females, it is in front of the vagina and in males, it is in front of the rectum. The bladder stores urine produced by the kidneys. Each kidney has a tube (ureter) leaving it that leads to the bladder. The body’s blood is filtered through the kidneys. Substances from the blood that can be used by the body and a certain amount of water are sent back into the bloodstream. Waste products and excess fluid (together called urine) from each kidney travel down the ureters and into the bladder. This urine is stored in the bladder until it is discharged from the body (urinated).
    The Bladder
    The bladder
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
    A bladder tumor grows when cells of the bladder become cancerous. These cancer cells begin to divide and multiply more quickly than normal cells. Cancer cells also lack the ability to organize themselves in a normal way, and have the capability to invade other normal tissue.
    There are two major types of bladder cancer: papillary and nonpapillary. A papillary bladder tumor is a warty growth that is attached to the bladder by a stalk. A nonpapillary bladder tumor lies flat against the bladder tissue itself, and therefore has the potential to be more serious. Luckily, the majority of bladder tumors are papillary (about 70%).

    Who Is Affected

    Bladder cancer is the second most common type of tumor that affects the genitourinary tract, which includes the kidney, bladder, and reproductive organs. Prostate cancer is the most common. Bladder cancer is the fourth most common type of solid tumor in men and the eighth most common in women.
    In united States, It is estimated that 70,980 men and women (52,810 men and 18,170 women) will be diagnosed with and 14,330 men and women will die of cancer of the urinary bladder in 2009. The average age at diagnosis is 65. Men are more likely than women to develop bladder cancer; approximately five men to every two women will be diagnosed with the disease. Caucasians are more likely than African-Americans to develop bladder cancer.

    Causes and Complications

    Most people who develop bladder cancer seem to have been exposed to certain toxic substances. Smokers are particularly likely to develop bladder cancer, possibly due to the cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco; in fact, research shows that more than half of all people with bladder cancer are smokers. Industrial chemicals are also known to cause bladder cancer. Other things that irritate the bladder over long periods of time—such as certain parasites in developing countries, the presence of bladder stones, or chronic, untreated bladder infections—can also predispose the bladder to the development of cancer.
    Occupational exposure during rubber, leather, textile, paint, printing and hairdressing industries. Other things that irritate the bladder over long periods of time—such as certain parasites in developing countries, the presence of bladder stones, or chronic, untreated bladder infections—can also predispose the bladder to the development of cancer.
    Left to grow over time, a bladder tumor will destroy and replace normal bladder tissue. Untreated, cancer cells from the bladder can invade other tissues within the pelvis, such as the lymph nodes, ureters, vagina, uterus, prostate, and rectum. In advanced cases, bladder cancer cells can also travel through the body, causing cancer to invade other organs and tissues, including the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, and bones.


    Campell’s Urology. 8th ed. New York, NY: Elsevier Science; 2002: 2732-2765.

    Cashen AF, Wildes TM. The Washington Manual; Hematology and Oncology Subspeciality Consult. 2nd ed. Wolter Kluwers; 2008.

    Cecil Textbook of Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2002: 633-634.

    Conn’s Current Therapy. 54th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2002: 720-721.

    Horner MJ, Ries LAG, Krapcho M, Neyman N, Aminou R, Howlader N, Altekruse SF, Feuer EJ, Huang L, Mariotto A, Miller BA, Lewis DR, Eisner MP, Stinchcomb DG, Edwards BK (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2006, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975%5F2006/ . based on November 2008 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, 2009.

    What you need to know about bladder cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at http://www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/wyntk/bladder . Accessed December 2002.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    Maybe it's time to stop guessing. If you've been wanting to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.