Bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the United States. Almost 60,000 cases are diagnosed each year, and more than 12,000 will die from the disease. Men, Caucasians and smokers have twice the risk of bladder cancer than the general population. When diagnosed and treated in a localized stage, bladder cancer is very treatable, with a five-year cancer-specific survival rate approaching 95 percent.
Smoking is the greatest risk factor for bladder cancer. The incidence increases in people 50 years of age and older. Chronic bladder problems like infections and kidney stones may also be risk factors, although no direct link has been established.
The different types of bladder cancer are: Transitional cell bladder cancer: About 90 percent of bladder cancers are transitional cell carcinomas – cancers that begin in the cells lining the bladder.
Cancer that is confined to the lining of the bladder is superficial bladder cancer. Squamous cell bladder cancer: Bladder cancer that begins in squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells that may form in the bladder after long-term infection or irritation. Adenocarcinoma: Bladder cancer that develops in the inner lining of the bladder as a result of chronic irritation and inflammation.
The most common bladder cancer symptom is blood in the urine (hematuria), which causes the urine to appear rusty or deep red in color. However, hematuria cannot always be detected by the naked eye, and can also be a symptom of other conditions such as kidney stones and urinary tract infection. If you experience hematuria or any of the other bladder cancer symptoms listed below, let your doctor know:
- Painful urination
- Frequent urination
- Having the urge to urinate, but without result