Bladder Cancer2024-06-13T12:06:10-04:00

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer affects more than 80,000 men and women each year and is the fourth most common cancer among men. Treatment is available at all stages of bladder cancer, but knowing your family history, taking preventative measures to protect your bladder, recognizing the symptoms and speaking up if you think there’s an issue are important factors in surviving this type of diagnosis.

Bladder Cancer Symptoms

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, some of the warning signs of bladder cancer include:

  • Blood or blood clots in the urine
  • Pain or burning sensation during urination
  • Frequent urination, including through the overnight hours
  • Having the sensation of needing to urinate, but without being able to pass urine
  • Lower back pain on one side of the body

Bladder Cancer Risk Factors

The symptoms of bladder cancer often mimic those of a urinary tract infection, but may be a bigger cause for concern if you have the following risk factors:

  • Lifestyle: A history of smoking is one of the largest contributing factors to bladder cancer. People who are exposed to workplace chemicals used in processing paint, dye, metal and petroleum are also at higher risk.
  • Gender: Men are more prone to bladder cancer than women, but women can get it as well. Although it is less common among women, it is often not discovered until more advanced stages of the illness.
  • Age: Most bladder cancer diagnoses occur in those over the age of 55, with the average age of diagnosis being closer to 73.
  • Race: White people are more likely than Black people, Hispanics and Asians to be diagnosed with bladder cancer, but Black people have a greater chance of dying from the disease.
  • Genetics: Having a family member who has been diagnosed with bladder cancer increases your risk only slightly. Certain gene mutations, however, can make you more prone to this type of illness.
  • Medical History: People who have a history of urinary tract infections are more prone to bladder cancer than those who are not. The risk for bladder cancer also goes up if you are currently taking chemotherapy drugs.

Bladder Cancer Diagnosis & Staging

Following an initial screening, your primary care provider may refer you to a urologist for further observation, tests and lab work to determine if there is a diagnosis of cancer and how advanced it is (known as staging). Staging your cancer will be used in determining a treatment plan. These tests may include:


A cystoscopy is an inpatient or outpatient procedure (depending on the need for sedation) that allows an examination of the bladder lining and urethra. By slowly moving a hollow tube (cystoscope) with a lens through the urethra, the doctor can identify any blockages, abnormal tissue, polyps, tumors or cancer in both the urethra and bladder.


Similar to a cystoscopy, in a biopsy, the doctor inserts a cystoscope into your urethra but also removes cells or tissue from the bladder for testing in a lab. The biopsy is used not just to identify the existence of cancerous cells, but can be used for additional testing to determine the best treatment options.

Urine Cytology

During a urine cytology test, urine is collected from the patient and then examined closely under a microscope for cells that show signs of infection, inflammatory disease of the urinary tract, cancer or precancerous conditions.

Imaging Tests

Imaging tests use sound waves, x-rays, magnetic fields, or radioactive substances to create pictures of the inside of your body, including computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. These tests are typically used to determine whether cancer has spread to other parts of the body.