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Bladder Cancer

The wall of the bladder is lined with cells called transitional cells and squamous cells. More than 90% of bladder cancers begin in the transitional cells. This type of bladder cancer is called transitional cell carcinoma. About 8 % of bladder cancer patients have squamous cell carcinomas. Cancer that is only in cells in the lining of the bladder is called superficial bladder cancer. Cancer that begins as a superficial tumor may grow through the lining and into the muscular wall of the bladder. This is known as invasive cancer. Invasive cancer may extend through the bladder wall.

The cause of bladder cancer is unknown, although there are many risk factors that increase a person’s chance of developing the disease. Some of these risk factors are age, tobacco usage, occupation, infections, previous treatment with cytoxan or arsenic, race, being a man, family history, and personal history of bladder cancer. Some of the common symptoms of bladder cancer can include: blood in urine, pain during urination, frequent urination, or feeling the need to urinate without results. People with these symptoms may see their family doctor or a urologist, who specializes in diseases of the urinary system.

Upon a doctor visit with a urologist the patient may have one or more of the following tests: physical exam, urine tests, intravenous pyelogram, and cystoscopy. During a cystoscopy the doctor may remove sample tissue, called a biopsy to be sent to a pathologist for diagnosis. Staging is sometimes done at the time of diagnosis, or sometimes additional tests such as, CT scan, MRI, sonogram, intravenous pyelogram, bone scan, or chest x-ray may need to be done. Sometimes staging is not done till surgery. Once staging is complete the doctor may refer you to doctor who specializes in treating cancer. Treatment generally begins within a few weeks after diagnosis. Treatment may consist of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or biological therapy. A treatment plan that is best for you will be decided upon by you and your healthcare team.

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