The urinary bladder is an important part of the urinary tract. It is a muscular sac that collects and stores urine. Kidneys filter the blood, forming urine, which is made up of water and waste products. Urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through two tubes called the ureters. Urine is stored in the bladder until it can be released from the body.
Cancer of the bladder is the second most common cancer of the urinary system. It is the fourth most common cancer among men but ranks below the 10th most common cancers in women. Cancer of the bladder may occur at any age, but it usually strikes those over 50 years old. In 2007, the American Cancer Society estimates that 50,040 men and 17,120 women will be diagnosed with bladder cancer.
Most bladder cancers are due to abnormal growth of the lining of the bladder and are called transitional cell cancers. They can be superficial or invasive to the lining. Superficial tumors are less threatening than invasive ones, which penetrate the muscle layer of the bladder. Bladder cancers can also be categorized by the diseased cell type: transitional cell carcinoma (90 percent of bladder cancers), squamous cell carcinoma (5 to 10 percent), mixed carcinoma (4 to 6 percent), adenocarcinoma (less than 2 percent), and undifferentiated carcinoma (less than 2 percent).
At The Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center, our specialized Division of Urologic Oncology focuses on cancers of the urinary system, including bladder cancer. We feature the following unique and innovative services:
- board-certified urologists, who are highly skilled in treating bladder cancer both medically and surgically, with state-of-the-art technology and surgical techniques, including minimally invasive procedures
- sophisticated diagnostic testing and imaging studies
- clinical trials to investigate new medications and treatment methods
- a full range of support services
SymptomsA person may have bladder cancer for several months without realizing it. Symptoms may include:
- blood in the urine
- an urgent need to urinate
- frequent and/or painful urination
These symptoms may indicate a number of other conditions as well, including urinary infection, benign tumor, kidney stone, or other kidney diseases. So if you experience any of these symptoms, call your primary care doctor or urologist to schedule an appointment.
Treatment ServicesSurgery alone or combined with radiation therapy or chemotherapy is used to treat more than 90 percent of all bladder cancers. Here are some of the options:
- Transurethral resection (TUR) is the standard initial treatment. TUR is a minimally invasive procedure, whereby the urologist uses a cystoscope to access the bladder tumor through the urethra and then destroy the diseased tissue with either electrical or laser energy.
- A radical cystectomy (surgical removal of the entire bladder) is the standard treatment for patients with more advanced bladder cancer. Advanced surgical techniques in "bagless": surgery are possible in selected cases.
- Intravesical therapy involves inserting chemotherapy or immunotherapy medications directly into the bladder to treat superficial bladder cancer.
- Other therapies, such as interferon, intravesical gene therapy, photodynamic therapy, and oral therapy, may be used.