Bladder Cancer

Definition

The bladder is located in the lower abdomen. It is a hollow organ with flexible muscular walls. It stores urine until a person is ready to urinate. Bladder cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the bladder. Cancer occurs when cells in the body, in this case bladder cells, divide without control or order. Sometimes, cells divide uncontrollably when new cells are not needed. A mass of tissue called a growth or tumor can form. The term cancer refers to malignant tumors. Malignant tumors can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body. Three main types of cancer affect the bladder. They are named for the type of cell that becomes cancerous:
  • Transitional cell (urothelial) carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma

Causes

The cause of bladder cancer is unknown. However, several risk factors have been identified.

Risk Factors

This condition is more common in adults between 65 and 85 years old. It is also more common in men and people who are Caucasian. Factors that may increase your chance of developing bladder cancer include:
  • Smoking
  • Occupation due to exposure to certain substances:
    • Rubber, leather, and textile workers
    • Painters
    • Hairdressers
    • Machinists
    • Printers
    • Truck drivers
    • Petroleum industry workers
  • Genetics
  • Chronic bladder inflammation or infection such as schistosomiasis, an infection caused by a parasitic worm
  • Personal or family history of bladder cancer
  • Chemotherapeutic drugs: cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide
  • Obesity
  • The use of pioglitazone, an anti-diabetic agent
  • Exposure to arsenic
  • Radiation treatment of the pelvis
  • Bladder birth defects
  • Chemicals such as nitrosamines and benzidine
  • Urinary stones for many years
  • In-dwelling catheter for many years
  • Bladder diverticuli: an area of weakness in the bladder wall through which some of the lining of the bladder is forced out
  • Metastasis from another cancer

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