Bladder cancer is a type of cancer, which develops in the urinary bladder. The urinary bladder or the bladder is a balloon-shaped organ present in the pelvis that stores the urine. Most part of the bladder lies behind the pubic bone of the pelvis, but when it fills with urine, it can extend up into the lower part of the abdomen. The primary function of bladder is to store urine formed in the kidney. The urine formed in the kidney drains through tube-like structures called the ureters into the bladder. There are two ureters; one for each kidney and these connect the kidney with the bladder. As the bladder fills, the pressure in it increases and this gives you the sensation of a full bladder and the need to empty it. When the muscular wall of the bladder contracts, it helps to expel urine out of your body.
[Read: Symptoms of Bladder Cancer]
Bladder cancer develops due to uncontrolled abnormal growth and multiplication of cells in the urinary bladder. In any healthy organ, the cells grow and divide in an organized manner to form new cells. New cells are formed based on the needs of the body i.e. the old cells die and are replaced by new cells. If the cells lose control, do not divide and grow in an orderly manner, a cancer is formed. The excess of cells that are formed, form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumour. Some types of cancer are benign whereas others can be malignant. Malignant cancer can invade i.e. spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.
Like other types of cancer, bladder cancers can be malignant and therefore, can spread (metastasize) to other body parts including the lungs, bones and liver. Most bladder cancers start from the innermost layer of the bladder (for example, the mucosa). The cancer may remain confined to the mucosa for a prolonged period or grow and invade into the deeper layers.
[Read: Treatment of Bladder Cancer]
Bladder cancers are most often diagnosed in older adults, though it can occur at any age. Many patients are diagnosed at an early stage when bladder cancer is highly treatable. The current treatment options for bladder cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and biological therapy (immunotherapy). Your doctor will discuss the treatment options with you and then decide on the treatment that is best for you. After treatment, regular follow-up is recommended as the chances of recurrence are about 15% in one year and 32% in five years after the initial diagnosis in people with low-risk superficial bladder cancer and in the range of 61%-78% at one and five years respectively for high-risk superficial tumours. Hence, bladder cancer survivors are advised regular follow-ups and tests to look for cancer recurrence for years after the initial treatment.
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