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Bladder Cancer: What You Should Know

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Mar 18, 2023

Bladder Cancer: What You Should Know

Bladder cancer develops when abnormal cells multiply and expand rapidly and uncontrollably, invading surrounding tissues. The specific cause of bladder cancer is uncertain.

What are the Types of Bladder Cancer?

Bladder cancer can be one of three types:

Tumor with transitional cells

The most prevalent kind of bladder cancer is transitional cell carcinoma, which develops in the inner layer of the bladder’s transitional cells, which are cells that may change shape when the surrounding tissue is stretched without suffering injury.

Cancer of the squamous cell

Squamous cell carcinoma is an uncommon kind of cancer that develops in the bladder as a result of a protracted infection or bladder irritation.


Adenocarcinoma is also an uncommon kind of cancer. It starts when glandular cells develop in the bladder following persistent irritation and inflammation of the bladder. The mucus-secreting glands in the body are made of glandular cells.

What signs or symptoms are present in bladder cancer?

It’s common for people with bladder cancer to have blood in their urine but not experience pain when urinating. Other signs of bladder cancer include fatigue, weight loss, and bone tenderness, which can signify an advanced form of the disease.

You should pay close attention to the following symptoms:

  • urine with blood in it
  • unpleasant urination
  • excessive urination
  • immediate urination
  • other urination problems
  • discomfort in the lower abdomen
  • the lower back hurts

Who’s at risk of developing bladder cancer?

Smoking raises the risk of bladder cancer and accounts for half of the cases.

You are also more likely to have bladder cancer if you have the following risk factors:

  • exposure to chemicals that cause cancer
  • bladder infections that persist
  • little fluid intake
  • Biological males
  • Caucasian
  • being older, most bladder cancer patients are over 55
  • eating a diet heavy in fat
  • having bladder cancer in one’s family
  • having received prior therapy with the chemotherapeutic medication Cytoxan
  • having undergone radiation therapy for pelvic cancer in the past

How is bladder cancer identified?

One or more of the following techniques may be used by your doctor to identify bladder cancer:

  • a urine test
  • an internal examination in which your doctor feels for lumps in your vagina or rectum with gloved fingers to see if there could be malignant growths
  • a cystoscopy, in which your doctor threads a tiny camera-equipped thin tube into your urethra to view the inside of your bladder
  • a biopsy is a procedure where a small tool is inserted via the urethra to remove a small sample of bladder tissue for cancer detection.
  • a bladder-viewing CT scan
  • a pyelogram done intravenously (IVP)
  • X-rays

To determine how far the cancer has spread, your doctor can stage your bladder cancer using a method that ranges from 0 to 4.

The following are the bladder cancer stages:

Stage 0 – The bladder lining is still intact.

Stage 1 – The cancer has progressed through the bladder’s lining but has not yet reached the layer of muscle.

Stage 2 – The bladder muscle layer has been affected.

Stage 3 – The bladder’s surrounding tissues have been affected.

Stage 4 – Bladder cancer has progressed outside of the bladder to other body parts.

How is bladder cancer treated?

Based on the kind and stage of your bladder cancer, your symptoms, and your general health, your doctor and you will decide on the best course of therapy.

Stage 0 and Stage 1 treatment

Surgery to remove the tumor from the bladder, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy, which is taking a drug that triggers your immune system to fight the cancer cells, are all possible forms of treatment for stage 0 and stage 1 bladder cancer.

Stage 2 and Stage 3 treatment

Stages 2 and 3 bladder cancer may be treated with:

  • chemotherapy in addition to bladder portion removal
  • radical cystectomy, which involves removing the entire bladder, followed by surgery to establish a new pathway for pee to leave the body.
  • chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or immunotherapy are treatments for cancer that can be used to reduce a tumor before surgery, treat the disease when surgery is not an option, eradicate any cancer cells that remain after surgery, or stop the disease from returning.

Stage 4 bladder cancer treatment

Stage 4 bladder cancer treatment options include:

  • using chemotherapy instead of surgery to treat symptoms and lengthen life
  • radical cystectomy, removal of the surrounding lymph nodes, and then an operation to open a new urinary outlet.
  • Following surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy may be used to eradicate any cancer cells that may still be present or to reduce symptoms and prolong life.
  • medicines in clinical trials

What is the prognosis for bladder cancer patients?

According to the American Cancer Society, a number of factors, including the type and stage of cancer, affect your prognosis.

The following are the five-year survival rates by stage:

  • Stage 0 bladder cancer patients have a five-year survival rate of approximately 98 %.
  • For those with stage 1 bladder cancer, the five-year survival rate is approximately 88%.
  • Around 63%t of stage 2 bladder cancer patients survive for five years.
  • 46% of those with stage 3 bladder cancer survive for five years.
  • Around 15% of those with stage 4 bladder cancer survive for five years.

For all stages, there are therapies available. Additionally, survival rates don’t always provide the full picture and can’t forecast your future, If you have any issues or questions about your diagnosis or treatment, go to your doctor.


Although bladder cancer may not always be avoided because of the unknown causes, the following factors and actions can lower your risk of developing bladder cancer:

  • not smoking
  • avoiding secondhand smoke
  • avoiding additional cancer-causing substances
  • consuming a lot of water


What effects does bladder cancer treatment have on bowel movements and other physiological functions?

Depending on the type of treatment taken, the effect of bladder cancer treatment on other body functions varies. Radical cystectomy can have an impact on sexual function, especially sperm production, Sometimes erections might be impacted by damage to pelvic nerves. Radiation therapy administered to the area may also have an impact on your bowel motions, including the appearance of diarrhea.

The most prevalent symptom, and frequently the first, is blood in the urine. It might only be a tiny bit, or it might be plenty to alter the color of your poop. It might turn darker red, pink, or orange.In addition, one day you might see blood, the next you might not, Eventually, if you have bladder cancer, the blood returns. You may not always be able to notice blood in your urine. Only a urine test will allow your doctor or lab technician to identify it.

When should I have myself checked?

If you have any of the following other symptoms, schedule a consultation:

  • You need to urinate more frequently than normal
  • Your urine’s color changes
  • If you urinate, it stings or burns
  • Even when your bladder isn’t full, you feel the need to urinate
  • You either can’t or seldom ever urinate

Call your doctor if you observe any of these things, but don’t be alarmed; these symptoms do not necessarily indicate cancer. You could have a bladder infection, urinary tract infection, or another less dangerous ailment.

When bladder cancer first appears, you could see that:

  • you feel like you need to urinate
  • pain in your lower back
  • You’re shedding pounds without even trying
  • you’re not as hungry as usual
  • your feet are swollen
  • your joints ache
  • you frequently feel utterly exhausted or frail

Again, if any of these occur, consult a doctor as they are more likely to be signs of a condition other than bladder cancer.

Learn more about Cancer here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Mar 18, 2023

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