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What do you know about Bladder Cancer?

Bladder cancer is any of several types of cancer arising from the tissues of the urinary bladder. It is a disease in which cells grow abnormally and have the potential to spread to other parts of the body. The most common symptoms include blood in the urine and pain with urination.

[Risk factors for bladder cancer include smoking, prior radiation therapy, frequent bladder infections, and exposure to certain chemicals (paints, aniline dyes). The most common type is transitional (urothelial) cell carcinoma. Other much less common types include squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.]

Diagnosis is typically by cystoscopy with tissue biopsies. Staging (how far the tumor has spread) of the cancer is typically determined by medical imaging such as abdominal/pelvic CT scan or MRI.

Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer. The basic staging of the disease is either invasive or non-invasive. If the latter, limited endoscopic surgical removal (transurethral resection) may be all that is required. If the tumor is high grade or multifocal (multiple areas) within the bladder then some form of intravesical therapy (medication instilled directly into the bladder) may reduce the frequency and severity of any recurrence as bladder tumors have a high propensity to return. If the tumor is invasive (i.e. into the bladder wall) treatment may include some combination of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, Surgical options may include additional transurethral resection, partial or complete removal of the bladder, with/without urinary diversion.[1] Typical five-year survival rates in the United States are 77% for all grades/types of bladder cancer but less than 50% for those patients whose disease has penetrated (muscle invasive) into the bladder wall.

World-wide Bladder cancer, as of 2015, affects about 3.4 million people with 430,000 new cases a year. Age of onset is most often between 65 and 85 years of age. Males are more often affects than females. In 2015, bladder cancer resulted in 188,000 deaths.

In the past decade, considerable progress in patient survival has been made with the use of chemotherapy prior to bladder removal for those with invasive disease. Progress has also been made with the various forms of urinary diversion.