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Bladder Cancer

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More than 73,000 Americans were expected to develop bladder cancer in 2012, making this cancer the sixth most common cancer in the United States.

What is bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer forms in the tissues of the bladder—the hollow, muscular organ that holds and stores urine in the body. There are different types of bladder cancer, the most common of which include:

  • transitional cell carcinoma—cancer that starts in the lining of the bladder
  • squamous cell carcinoma—cancer than begins in the thin, flat squamous cells
  • adenocarcinoma—cancer that starts in the mucous-producing cells of the bladder
  • Small-cell carcinoma and sarcomas are extremely rare forms of bladder cancer.

Who develops bladder cancer?

While the cause is unknown, several factors are believed to contribute to bladder cancer, especially smoking—which is estimated to cause up to 50 percent of bladder cancer cases in the United States—and chemical exposure. Certain chemotherapy drugs, radiation and long-term bladder infections can also increase risk.

What are the symptoms of bladder cancer?

Blood in the urine is often the first and most common symptom of bladder cancer. Other symptoms include:

  • abdominal pain
  • incontinence
  • pain when urinating

How is bladder cancer diagnosed?

If a doctor suspects bladder cancer after taking a complete medical history and performing an exam, a urinanalysis may be ordered to test for blood cells and a urine cytology to test for discarded cancer cells. Cystoscopy is the preferred examination method, during which a cystoscope—a long, thin tube with a camera—is inserted into the bladder to visualize any abnormalities. A biopsy of bladder tissue may be taken to confirm a diagnosis. A computed tomography (CT) scan may also be ordered to check for problems in the bladder and surrounding organs.

How is bladder cancer treated?

Treatment depends on the stage or aggressiveness of the cancer and may include surgical removal of the cancerous cells without removing the bladder, surgery to remove the bladder, chemotherapy and/or radiation.

The Valley Hospital offers comprehensive bladder cancer treatment through its Urologic Oncology Center. For more information or to make an appointment, call 201-634-5567.

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