There are several types of bladder cancer that can develop. However, the most common type in the United States is transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder which often starts as small papillary tumors within the bladder, although less commonly it can be sessile or flat appearing lesions within the bladder.
There are several risk factors that are known to increase the incidence of bladder cancer including cigarette smoking and other tobacco products as well as chemical exposure, chemotherapies, radiation treatments, chronic infection or indwelling catheters.
The typical signs of bladder cancer can include blood in the urine, irritative urinary symptoms including voiding frequently and urgently, incontinence, as well as lower abdominal pain and weight loss.
Bladder cancer is commonly diagnosed by cystoscopy which includes visualizing the bladder with a telescope performed in the office as well as x-ray imaging with CT scans or other x-rays using contrast such as IVP as well as urine cytologies which evaluate the urine for abnormal cells which have been passed.
Treatment options include removing the bladder tumor through telescopes placed into the bladder, chemotherapy agents which are placed into the bladder or if advanced it may require surgical removal of the bladder by traditional surgery, laparoscopic techniques, or da Vinci robotic-assisted techniques with alternative drainage of urine into small segment of bowel or a newly developed bladder pouch. There is also partial removal of the bladder, radiation therapy and chemotherapy which are alternative options for advanced disease as well as immunotherapy.