Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Bladder cancer: Medical animation

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The urinary system is composed of two kidneys, two ureters, the bladder and the urethra. The kidneys remove waste products from the blood and form urine. Urine then travels through the tube-like ureters and is stored in the bladder before it is eliminated from the body via the urethra.

The bladder is the hollow-shaped organ that expands and contracts to collect and eliminate urine. As with all organs in the urinary system the bladder is susceptible to developing cancer - the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells.

The wall of the bladder has several layers of tissue. Bladder cancer type depends on the types of cells and layers of tissue affected. There are three types of bladder cancer:

  • 1. Transitional Cell Cancer: This type of cancer begins in the transitional cells. These cells form the innermost layer of the bladder, allowing the bladder to stretch when it is full, and shrink when it is empty. It is the most common site of bladder cancer.
  • 2. Squamous Cell Cancer: This type of cancer is a slow growing cancer of the thin flat cells that lie in the surface of the bladder.
  • 3. Adenocarcinoma: Cancer that begins in the glandular or secretory cells of the bladder.

Symptoms of bladder cancer can include:

  • Blood in the urine.
  • Frequent urination or feeling the need to urinate without being able to do so.
  • Pain during urination.

Men are more likely to develop bladder cancer than women. Bladder cancer is more common in Whites than in Blacks. Risk factors for bladder cancer include:

  • Smoking tobacco.
  • Long-term exposure to certain workplace chemicals or carcinogens such as those used in making rubber, textiles, paints and dyed clothing.
  • A diet high in fats and fried foods.
  • Having a history of recurrent bladder infections.
  • Long-term use of urinary catheters.
  • Being over age 60.

If cancer is suspected diagnostic studies can include:

Cystoscopy – an imaging study where a tube with a lens is placed into the bladder through the urethra.

Urine culture and cytology – laboratory studies that analyze urine for bacteria in cancer cells.

Biopsy – the removal of bladder cells for examination under a microscope.

Imaging studies – such as MRI, CT Scan, an IVU - intravenous urography – they provide a detailed picture of the urinary system.

TREATMENT AND PROGNOSIS - Depend on the stage and grade of the cancer and the location of the tumor. Treatment options for bladder cancer can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and biological therapy.

This medical animation illustrates how bladder cancer develops and highlights three types of bladder cancer: transitional cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma. You will also learn about the symptoms of bladder cancer, detection tools used to diagnose bladder cancer, and the treatment options for bladder cancer.

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