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About bladder cancer

The bladder is the organ in your body that stores urine. Bladders cancers typically begin in the cells of the inner lining of the bladder and are called transitional cell carcinomas (or urothelial carcinomas).

Bladder cancer is divided into two categories: superficial (also called non-invasive), which occurs only in the lining of the bladder, and invasive (or muscle-invasive), which has spread through the bladder lining to the muscle wall. When bladder cancer spreads to other sites in the body, it is called metastatic bladder cancer.

  • Symptoms

    If you have any of the following symptoms, discuss with your doctor immediately:

    • Blood (a rusty, red, or pink hue) or blood clots (dark particles) in your urine.
    • Frequent urination.
    • Needing to urinate but not being able to.
    • Pain during urination.
    • Pain in the lower back on one side.

    By the time symptoms appear, the cancer may have spread outside the bladder to another part of your body, and you may experience other symptoms as well, depending on where the cancer is. Cancer that has moved to other organs like the liver or the lungs may cause pain, jaundice, coughing, or shortness of breath.

  • Risk factors

    Research has found many links between heredity, diet, smoking, exposure to certain environmental conditions, and other factors that increase a person’s chance of developing bladder cancer. The following factors may increase bladder cancer risk:

    • Smoking: Smokers are two to four times as likely to develop bladder cancer as nonsmokers, making smoking the most significant risk factor. Smoking is estimated to be responsible for 47 percent of bladder cancers in men and 37 percent in women. 
    • Gender: Men are four times as likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer as women are. Bladder cancer is the fourth most diagnosed cancer in men.  
    • Age: Nearly 90 percent of all cases of bladder cancer are found in people over the age of 55. 
    • Family history: People with family members who have been diagnosed with bladder cancer are at greater risk. 
    • Chronic bladder inflammation: People who have had chronic bladder inflammation, such as from recurring bladder infections, kidney stones, and bladder stones, are at greater risk.