Delta Medix Patient General Information

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer forms in tissues of the bladder (the organ that stores urine). Your bladder is part of the urinary tract. Urine passes from each kidney into the bladder through a long tube called a ureter. Urine leaves the bladder through a shorter tube called the urethra. The wall of the bladder has layers of tissue. Most bladder cancers are transitional cell cancers. Transitional cells form the inner layer of tissue in the bladder, also called the lining. As your bladder fills up with urine, the transitional cells on the surface stretch. When you empty your bladder, these cells shrink.

Bladder cancer cells can spread by breaking away from the original tumor. They can spread through the blood vessels to the liver, lungs, and bones. In addition, bladder cancer cells can spread through lymph vessels to nearby lymph nodes. After spreading, the cancer cells may attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumors that may damage those tissues.

Bladder cancer may cause these common symptoms

  • Finding blood in your urine (which may make the urine look rusty or darker red)
  • Feeling an urgent need to empty your bladder
  • Having to empty your bladder more often than you used to
  • Feeling the need to empty your bladder without results
  • Needing to strain (bear down) when you empty your bladder
  • Feeling pain when you empty your bladder

These symptoms may be caused by bladder cancer or by other health problems, such as an infection. People with these symptoms should tell their doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

Treatment Options for Bladder Cancer

The treatment that is right for you is dependent on the following:

  • The location of the tumor in the bladder
  • Whether the tumor has invaded the muscle layer or tissues outside the bladder
  • Whether the tumor has spread to other parts of the body
  • The grade of the tumor
  • Your age and general health
  • Surgery is an option for most people with bladder cancer. You and your surgeon can discuss the types of surgery and which may be right for you.
  • Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be used to treat bladder cancer before or after surgery. You may receive chemotherapy in different ways:
    1. Into the bladder: After surgery for early bladder cancer, the doctor may insert a catheter through your urethra to put a liquid drug in the bladder. The drug remains in your bladder for several hours. This treatment may be given once a week for six weeks.
    2. By mouth: Some drugs are pills that you can swallow. They may be given before or after surgery.
    3. Into a vein: For cancer that has invaded the muscle of the bladder or spread to other tissues drugs are usually given intravenously. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. Chemotherapy may be given before or after surgery.
  • Biological Therapy is a treatment which may be used for early bladder cancer. The treatment is BCG solution, which is a liquid containing weakened bacteria. The bacteria help your body’s natural defenses (the immune system) to kill cancer cells in the bladder. BCG solution is usually given through a catheter into the bladder, and is usually given once a week for six weeks.
  • Radiation Therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It may be given after surgery. It is usually given with chemotherapy for cancer that has invaded the muscle layer of the bladder.