Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer most often starts in the urothelial cells lining the inside of your bladder. Your bladder is a hollow muscular organ located in your lower abdomen that stores urine. Urothelial cells are found in several areas, including your kidneys and bladder and ureters, the tubes that connect them. However, they typically only become cancerous in the bladder.

Bladder cancer is often diagnosed in its early stages and is usually very treatable. Regular follow-up testing and physical examinations are needed for several years after your treatment ends to monitor your health and ensure your cancer has not returned.

Risk Factors for Bladder Cancer

Smoking dramatically increases your risk of developing bladder cancer. Other risk factors include:

  • Being male.
  • Being older than 55.
  • Chronic bladder infections.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals.
  • Family history of bladder cancer.
  • Previous cancer treatment.
  • Smoking.
Young man with pain talks to doctor for treatment.

Make an appointment

For more information, please contact your oncologist or the Cancer Care Center at (859) 301-4000.

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

The most common symptoms of bladder cancer are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Painful urination
  • Lower back pain
  • Urinary incontinence

Diagnosis of Bladder Cancer

Several diagnostic tests and procedures may be used to diagnose bladder cancer, including:

  • CT imaging
  • Cystoscopy
  • Internal examination
  • Retrograde pyelogram
  • Tissue biopsy
  • Urinalysis
  • X-rays

Treating Bladder Cancer

Treating bladder cancer depends on a number of factors, including the cancer type and how far it has progressed.

Treatment options may include:

  • Chemotherapy — Therapy that uses drugs injected through IV, taken by mouth or applied on the skin to attack and kill cancer cells.

  • Cystectomy — used in more advanced or recurrent bladder cancer, where the surgeon removes all or part of the bladder. This surgery typically involves creating a new way for urine to leave the body.

  • Immunotherapy — Medication therapy that stimulates your own immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells.
  • Intravesicular Therapy — Typically used for early-stage bladder cancer. involves delivering mediation directly into the bladder through a catheter. This can include chemotherapy and Bacillus Calmette-Guerin         (BCG), which is a type of immunotherapy that stimulates the immune system to fight cancer using an inactivated bacteria
  • Radiation therapy — Therapy that uses high-energy radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells.
  • Transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) — procedure to diagnose and treat early stage bladder cancer. Surgeons use a cystoscope to remove cancerous tissue from the inner layers of the bladder.

  • Targeted therapy — Medication therapy that uses your DNA to specifically target the cells that lead to cancer and stop cancer from forming and spreading.

Your Cancer Care Team

Cancer Research Physicians

The team includes medical oncologists specializing in immunotherapy and precision medicine, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, interventional radiologists, thoracic surgeons, pain management specialists, genetic counselors, pathologists, nutritionists, pharmacists, nurses and support staff. They work together to create a treatment plan that’s just right for you.