Cancer Home > Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the tissues of the bladder, a hollow organ in the lower part of the abdomen. Risk factors for the condition include tobacco use, gender, and family history. A person with bladder cancer may have symptoms such as blood in the urine or pain during urination (however, these symptoms do not always indicate cancer). Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, biological therapy, or a combination of treatments.

What Is Bladder Cancer?

Bladder cancer is a disease that occurs when cancer cells form in the tissues of the bladder.

Understanding the Bladder

The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower part of the abdomen that is shaped like a small balloon and has a muscular wall that allows it to get larger or smaller. The bladder stores urine until it is passed out of the body. Urine is the liquid waste that is made by the kidneys when the kidneys clean the blood. The urine passes from the two kidneys into the bladder through two tubes called ureters. When the bladder is emptied during urination, the urine goes from the bladder to the outside of the body through another tube called the urethra.

Types of Bladder Cancer

There are three types of bladder cancer that begin in cells in the lining of the bladder. These cancers are named for the type of cells that become cancerous, which include:
  • Transitional cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell bladder carcinoma, also known as squamous cell bladder cancer
  • Adenocarcinoma.
(Click Bladder Cancer Types for more information about the types of bladder cancer.)
Transitional Cell Carcinoma
Transitional cell carcinoma is cancer that begins in cells in the innermost tissue layer of the bladder. In this type of cancer, the cells are able to stretch when the bladder is full and shrink when the bladder is emptied. Most types of bladder cancer begin in the transitional cells.
Squamous Cell Bladder Carcinoma
Squamous cell bladder cancer is cancer that begins in squamous cells. Squamous cells are thin, flat cells that may form in the bladder after a long-term infection or irritation.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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