Bladder cancer begins in your bladder which is a balloon-shaped organ that stores urine in your pelvic area. It mainly starts with the cells that line the inside of your bladder. Most of the time, adults are affected, but it can occur at any age. Usually, bladder cancer is diagnosed at an early stage which is extremely beneficial to the treatment side of things. Unfortunately, bladder cancer is likely to recur. Because of this, cancer survivors often have follow-up tests for years to make sure that it doesn’t come back.


  • Blood in urine (hematuria) — urine may appear bright, red, or cola colored. In other cases urine may appear normal, but blood could be detected in a microscopic examination of the urine.
  • Frequent urination
  • Painful urination
  • Back pain
  • Pelvic pain


It isn’t always clear what causes bladder cancer. It has been associated with smoking, a parasitic infection, radiation, and chemical exposure. Bladder cancer occurs when cells in the bladder start to grow abnormally. These mutations cause the cells to divide and not die. All of these extra cells form a tumor.

Types of Bladder Cancer

Transitional cell carcinoma: This type of cancer occurs in the cells that line the inside of your bladder. These cells are in charge of expanding when your bladder is full and contracting when it’s empty. Transitional cell carcinoma is the most common type of bladder cancer in the United States.

Squamous cell carcinoma: These cells appear in your bladder when there is infection and irritation. They can become cancerous over time. This type of cancer is rare in the United States.

Adenocarcinoma: Adenocarcinoma starts in the cells that are a part of the mucus-secreting glands in the bladder. This type is also rare in the United States.

Some cancers in the bladder can include more than one cell.

Risk Factors

  • Smoking
  • Increasing age
  • Being white
  • Being a man
  • Exposure to certain chemicals
  • Previous cancer treatment
  • Taking a particular diabetes medication
  • Chronic bladder inflammation
  • Personal or family history of cancer


Your recommended treatment options can depend on a lot of things such as the type of cancer you have, how developed it is, your overall health conditions, and what you prefer.

Treatments for early-stage bladder cancer
If the cancer is relatively small and it hasn’t invaded the walls of the bladder, your doctor might suggest:

Surgery to remove the tumor: Transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) is the type of procedure often used when the cancer is in the inner layers of the bladder. This kind of surgery consists of your doctor inserting a small wire loop into your bladder so it can burn away the cancer cells with an electric current. Following the procedure, you may have painful or bloody urination.

Surgery to remove the tumor and a small portion of the bladder: Segmental cystectomy, sometimes called partial cystectomy, is when the surgeon only removes the part of the bladder that has cancer cells. This technique isn’t used very often since it is an option if the cancer is only affecting one area of the bladder where it wouldn’t harm bladder function if removed.

Biological therapy (immunotherapy): This treatment works by signaling your body’s immune system to help fight cancer cells.

If the cancer has affected deeper layers of the bladder wall, you may want to consider having surgery to remove the entire bladder or to create a new way for urine to leave the body. Also, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are a possibility.


  • Don't smoke
  • Take caution around chemicals
  • Drink water throughout the day
  • Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables