What is bladder cancer?

The most common type of bladder cancer is called urothelial carcinoma, or transitional cell carcinoma (TTC). This cancer gets its name from the urothelial cells that line the bladder. These cells also line other parts of the urinary tract, such as the urethra. The tumors that cause bladder cancer may also appear in these places, so your doctor will probably check these areas of your urinary tract for tumors, too. There are other kinds of bladder cancer, but they are not nearly as common as urothelial carcinoma. They are squamous cell carcinoma, sarcoma, and small cell carcinoma.

What are signs and symptoms of bladder cancer?

While bladder cancer does have some classic signs and symptoms, you may not notice anything at all. But please talk to your doctor right away if you notice any of the following:

  • Blood in your urine (Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t hurt)
  • Pain when you pee
  • Having to pass urine often or getting a strong sudden urge to urinate
  • Feeling pain in your lower abdomen
  • Having back pain

How is Bladder cancer diagnosed and treated?

If your doctor suspects you might have bladder cancer, they may order some special tests. These tests check things such as the color, makeup, and presence of cancer cells and see what cancer or abnormal tissue in your bladder looks like.

Based on what they find, your medical team will determine a treatment plan if you have bladder cancer. They will tailor the treatment to your cancer and how it looks. Possible treatments:

Immunotherapy, in which you’ll receive drugs to boost your immune system and fight the cancer.

Chemotherapy, which uses medications to kill cancer cells in the bladder.

Different types of surgery to remove tumors, parts of the bladder, or the entire bladder.

In a more severe case where you have all or some of your bladder removed, the surgeon will perform a procedure to route urine to another part of your body so you can still pass urine.