Bladder Cancer Center

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer
Bladder cancer can occur at any age. But what happens to the body during bladder cancer? What function does the bladder serve in the first place? And what types of bladder cancer do doctors diagnose?

Bladder anatomy

The bladder is a balloon shaped, hollow organ in the lower abdomen that stores urine.  Urine is made by the kidneys and is then carried to the bladder through tubes called ureters. Then, urine leaves the bladder through another tube called the urethra.

The wall of the bladder has several layers. The first layer of cells that line the inside of the kidney, ureter, bladder, and urethra is called the transitional epithelium. Beneath this, there is a thin layer of connective tissue and then a layer of muscle tissue. Beyond this muscle, another zone of fatty connective tissue separates the bladder from other nearby organs. These layers are very important in understanding bladder cancer. As cancer grows through these layers into the wall of the bladder, it becomes harder to treat.

What is bladder cancer?
Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the bladder. Bladder cancer most often begins in the cells that line the inside of the bladder.

Types of bladder cancer
Bladder tumors are generally grouped into several types. These same types of cancer can also grow in other places in the urinary tract, such as the lining of the, kidney (called the renal pelvis), the ureters, and the urethra. The main types of cancers that affect the bladder include:

  1. Adenocarcinoma - Adenocarcinomas have much in common with gland-forming cells of colon cancers and nearly all are invasive.

  2. Small cell carcinoma – This type of bladder cancer is very rare and occurs in less than 1% of bladder cancer cases.

  3. Squamous cell carcinoma - Under a microscope, the cells look much like the flat cells that are found on the surface of the skin. Nearly all squamous cell carcinomas are invasive.

  4. Transitional cell carcinoma (urothelial carcinoma) – This type of cancer is additionally divided into 2 subtypes and classified as either papillary or flat.
  • Papillary tumors have thin finger-like projections. They grow from the inner surface of the bladder toward the hollow center. They can appear to look like a type of cactus plant. If a papillary carcinoma is growing into the deeper layers of the bladder wall, it is categorized as invasive.

  • Flat carcinomas don’t grow toward the hollow part of the bladder. Some flat carcinomas can go on to grow into the deeper layers of the bladder. This growing pattern can progress even into the muscle layer. These are then called invasive transitional cell carcinomas.

What causes cancer of the bladder?  And who is at risk of developing bladder cancer?  Continue reading here for more information about risk factors and causes of bladder cancer.

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