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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University
Polsky Urologic Cancer Institute

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the bladder. The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower part of the abdomen. It is shaped like a small balloon and has a muscular wall that allows it to get larger or smaller to store urine made by the kidneys.

There are three types of bladder cancer that begin in cells in the lining of the bladder. These cancers are named for the type of cells that become malignant (cancerous): transitional cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.

Cancer that is in the lining of the bladder is called superficial bladder cancer. Cancer that has spread through the lining of the bladder and invades the muscle wall of the bladder or has spread to nearby organs and lymph nodes is called invasive bladder cancer.

 

  • Transitional cell carcinoma: Cancer that begins in cells in the innermost tissue layer of the bladder. These cells are able to stretch when the bladder is full and shrink when it is emptied. Most bladder cancers begin in the transitional cells. Transitional cell carcinoma can be low-grade or high-grade. Both types often recur (come back) after treatment, but low-grade rarely spreads into the muscle layer of the bladder or to other parts of the body. Almost all deaths from bladder cancer are due to high-grade disease.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: Cancer that begins in squamous cells (thin, flat cells lining the inside of the bladder). Cancer may form after long-term infection or irritation.
  • Adenocarcinoma: Cancer that begins in glandular cells that are found in the lining of the bladder. Glandular cells in the bladder make substances such as mucus. This is a very rare type of bladder cancer.

Symptoms

Review a list of symptoms associated with bladder cancer.

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Cause & Diagnosis

Explore the cause, how it is detected and steps we follow to confirm a diagnosis.

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Treatment

Browse the treatment options we offer at the Polsky Institute.

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This content is provided by the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov)

Syndicated Content Details:
Source URL: https://www.cancer.gov/publishedcontent/syndication/1098.htm
Source Agency: National Cancer Institute (NCI)

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