Bladder Cancer – Health care A to Z

Summary

*The bladder is located in the lower abdomen and forms part of the urinary tract.
*Most start in the cells lining the bladder.
*The most common type is transitional cell cancer, which accounts for 90-95 % of .
*It does not tend to run in families, but the cells of certain individuals seem to be more susceptible to malignant change than others.
*The most common symptom of is blood in the urine.

Description

The bladder is located in the lower abdomen and forms part of the urinary tract. It is a hollow organ that stores urine. The two kidneys filter the blood and form urine, which is then passed down the ureters to the bladder for storage. The bladder has a strong muscular wall to allow it to expand and accommodate urine.

The inside of the hollow bladder is lined with specialised cells called transitional cell epithelium. During urination, the bladder muscle contracts and expels urine via the urethra.

Moststart in the cells lining the bladder. The most common type is transitional cell cancer, which accounts for 90-95 % of. Squamous carcinoma and adenocarcinoma account for the rest.
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If the cancer is limited to the bladder lining only, it is called superficial. If it invades through the lining and into the muscle or beyond, then it is called invasive . Cancer cells may also spread via lymph channels to the lymph nodes, or via the bloodstream to distant organs like the lungs or bone. When this happens, it is called metastatic bladder cancer.

Causes

The exact cause of bladder cancer is not known. Research is being done to try and identify a gene which may increase the risk of developing bladder cancer. Certainly cells of certain individuals seem to be more susceptible to malignant change than other individuals. Several potential carcinogens have been identified, and are believed to be excreted into the urine, where they act on the lining of the bladder, eventually causing tumour formation. The time period between exposure and cancer may be as long as 20 years.

A risk factor is anything which may increase the chances of getting a cancer, but which does not directly cause it.

Smoking

This is by far the biggest risk factor. Cigarette smokers have a two to fourfold increased risk of bladder cancer, compared to non-smokers. The risk persists for about 10 years after cessation of smoking. Pipe and cigar smokers are also at increased risk.

Industrial chemicals

Exposure to certain chemicals, especially aromatic amines, has been linked with bladder cancer. These chemicals are used in the dye, rubber, textile, paint and printing industries.

Chronic bladder inflammation

Recurrent infection, stones, and indwelling catheters have all been linked to bladder cancer – especially squamous carcinoma. Chronic infection with Schistosoma haematobium (bilharzia) may also predispose to bladder cancer.

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