Bladder Cancer 

After the kidneys produce urine, it is stored in a pouch located in the urinary tract known as the bladder. Bladder cancer develops as an abnormal growth in the bladder’s lining happens, which can cause blood to appear in the urine. There are about 10,000 men and women who develop bladder cancer in the UK every year. The American Cancer Society’s estimates that US has about 74,690 new cases of bladder cancer diagnosed in 2014 and about 15,580 deaths from bladder cancer. Usually, bladder cancer is developed from the transitional cells within the bladder, which is known as transitional cell bladder cancer. Other two types of bladder cancer--Squamous cell bladder cancer and Adenocarcinoma-- are rare.

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

Usually, bladder cancer doesn't have symptoms in its early stages. As it progresses, symptoms can include:

  • Blood in the urine. This may show as slightly rusty to bright red and blood clots may appear. Our naked eye could miss the blood but it may be detected in urine test.
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite.
  • Urinary changes. This can include frequent or painful urination or recurring urinary tract infections.
  • Back or abdominal pain.
  • Anemia.
  • Persistent high body temperature.

What Causes Bladder Cancer?

When bladder cells start to grow abnormally, bladder cancer develops. Unlike normal cells that grow and divide as they should, the abnormal cells develop mutations that make them continue to grow rather than die. A tumor then forms from these abnormal cells.

Although the cause of bladder cancer is not always known, it has been linked to several risk factors, such as parasitic infections, smoking, chemical exposure, and radiation.

Risk Factors of Bladder Cancer

Risk Factors



You may have an increased risk of bladder cancer if you smoke because harmful chemicals in the smoke from cigarettes, pipes or cigars are processed by your body. Some of these chemicals accumulate in your urine which can cause the lining of your bladder to become damaged.


If you’ve previously had bladder cancer, or if a member of your immediate family has had it, your chances of getting bladder cancer are increased.

If there is a family history of hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, also known as Lynch syndrome, your chances of getting bladder cancer is also increased.

Chemical exposure

If you are exposed to harmful chemicals, your kidneys will filter them out of your bloodstream into your bladder which are harmful and may increase your chances of getting bladder cancer. These chemicals include those used in dyes, leather, textiles and paint as well as arsenic.

Previous cancer treatment

If you have previously been treated for cancer with cyclophosphamide, also known as Cytoxan, or if you have had radiation used for a prior cancer located in the pelvis, your risk of bladder cancer is increased.

Underlying health conditions

If you are being treated for diabetes with pioglitazone, which is present in Actos, Actoplus Met, and Duetact, for over a year, you may be more likely to get bladder cancer.

Frequent or chronic inflammation or infections of the bladder may increase your chances of developing squamous cell bladder cancer.

Other risk factors

  • Age: Bladder cancer is rare in people under 40 years of age.
  • Gender: Men are more likely to get bladder cancer than women.
  • Ethnicity: White people get bladder cancer more often than those of other races.

Medical Treatments for Bladder Cancer

1. Surgery

The purpose of surgery for bladder cancer is to remove the cancerous cells from the body. Options range from minimally invasive surgery to surgery that complete removes the bladder and surrounding organs. The best surgical treatment for you depends on how much of the bladder is affected by cancerous cells, your overall health and your preference.

2. Biological Therapy

Biological therapy or immunotherapy uses your body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells. This treatment is usually administered through the urethra into the bladder. Drugs of this type include Bacille Calmette-Guerin which is a bacteria that stimulates the immune system, and a synthetic form of Interferon which is a protein made by your body’s immune system to help fight infection.

3. Chemotherapy

Treatment for bladder cancer with chemotherapy uses medications to kill the cancer cells. At least two types of drugs are usually used together. They can be injected into the bloodstream using an intravenous needle, or administered through the urethra into the bladder with a tube. Chemotherapy may be used to shrink a tumor prior to surgery or to get rid of any remaining cancer cells after surgery. Chemotherapy may also be used in combination with radiation.

4. Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is not a common form of treatment for bladder cancer. It destroys cancer cells with high energy beams. The machine used for radiation treatment travels around you and aims the beam at the part of the body containing cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be used along with chemotherapy or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.

What to Do After Bladder Cancer Treatment

1. Do Follow-Up Tests

After your treatment for bladder cancer has been completed, be sure to work with your doctor to take any follow-up tests you need. Even though you may worry about the results of these tests, it’s important to have them done.

2. Take Care of Yourself

It is important to take care of yourself in case your cancer returns so that you will be ready to fight it. Be sure to eat lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, get regular exercise and get plenty of sleep.

3. Contact Other Bladder Cancer Survivors

By contacting other survivors of bladder cancer, you will have the opportunity to talk with other people who have had the same experiences as you. Your local American Cancer Society chapter can help you to locate support groups. Telephone based support groups and online message boards are also available and useful.