Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the bladder, the organ that stores urine. Bladder cancer disrupts the healthy cell-producing processes and causes malformed cells to multiply uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the bladder and other parts of the body.
There are several forms of bladder cancer, but the vast majority of cases, about 90%, are transitional cell cancer or urothelial carcinoma. This type of cancer is named after the type of cell the cancer affects, the urothelial cells on the innermost lining of the bladder.
Rarer types of bladder cancer include squamous cell carcinoma that comprises about 5% of all bladder cancer cases and adenocarcinoma that makes up about 2% of all cases.
Bladder Cancer Facts and Statistics
- In 2015, an estimated 74,000 adults will be diagnosed with bladder cancer in the United States, 56,320 men, and 17,680 women.
- There will be an estimated 16,000 deaths, 11,510 men, and 4,490 women.
- Bladder cancer is the 4th most common cancer among men and the 8th most common cause of cancer-related death among men.
- It is one of the deadliest types of cancer in men over 80 years of age.
- Fatal cases of bladder cancer are about 3 times more common in men than in women.
- The average five-year survival rate of non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer is 96%, once cancer has spread to tissues or organs outside, but near, the bladder, the survival rate drops to 34%.
- In 2012, there were approximately 577,403 people living with bladder cancer in the United States.
- About 90% of all people diagnosed with bladder cancer are over 55 years old. The average diagnosis age is 73.
- Roughly 85% of all bladder cancer cases are diagnosed before the cancer has spread outside the bladder, about 50% while the cancer is still in the inner layer and is non-invasive, and about 35% has spread to other parts of the bladder.
Symptoms and Risk Factors
Currently no screening tests (tests to check for a disease in a person not showing any symptoms) are recommended for bladder cancer. But there are tests that are recommended for people with a high risk for developing bladder cancer. Doctors should know these risks and order diagnostic tests when needed. Risk factors for bladder cancer include:
- Smoking tobacco—tobacco smokers are 3 times more likely than non-tobacco smokers to get bladder cancer. Smoking causes chemicals to enter the blood, filter through the kidneys, and concentrate in the urine. Exposure to other chemicals like dyes or textile chemicals may also increase likelihood of bladder cancer.
- Being over 50 years old.
- Being male—men are 3 times more likely than women to get bladder cancer.
- Personal or family history of bladder cancer or other infections or inflammation of the bladder.
- Previous cancer and treatment with anti-cancer drugs.
The symptoms of bladder cancer are common of many other types of diseases and conditions, making it difficult to diagnose the cancer in early stages. If proper diagnostic tests are not done, bladder cancer can be misdiagnosed as a different condition like a urinary tract infection (UTI) or post-menopausal bleeding.
Symptoms of bladder cancer include:
- Blood in urine—this may not always be noticeable, and examination under a microscope might be needed to detect the blood. The urine may turn pink or orange from blood.
- Pain in the pelvis or back.
- Pain while urinating or frequent urination.
Diagnosing Bladder Cancer
In order to diagnose bladder cancer, doctors first need to know the complete personal and family medical history of the patient. They must also complete a full physical examination.
The primary diagnostic tests for bladder cancer are urine analysis or urine cytology, where the doctor looks for evidence of blood or cancerous cells in the urine in conjunction with other tests.
Doctors may also perform a cystoscopy whereby a thin tube is inserted in the urethra to see inside the bladder. A biopsy may be performed to test for cancerous cells in tissue. Tests like x-rays or CT scans to detect tumors may also be ordered.
Bladder Cancer Treatment
Once bladder cancer is diagnosed, doctors will assess the size, growth rate, and location of the tumor or cancerous cells in order to come up with a treatment plan.
The most common treatment for bladder cancer is surgically removing the tumor, part of the bladder, or the entire bladder. Doctors may also use radiation or chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells.
Malpractice in Bladder Cancer
While the symptoms of bladder cancer are common of many other diseases and conditions, doctors should still order diagnostic tests if patients are over 50 years old or have a history of bladder infections. Once diagnostic tests are ordered and completed, the results should be properly communicated to both the patient and the patient's other relevant health care providers.
A failure to diagnose or a delayed diagnosis allows the cancer to worsen and spread, thereby reducing the chance of recovery and survival.
The attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian understand the complications that may arise as a result of a failed or delayed bladder cancer diagnosis. You have rights as a patient, and we have the experience and skills to get the results you deserve.
If you believe that you or a loved one's bladder cancer has been misdiagnosed or mishandled by a health care provider, call our offices today for a free consultation and learn more about your legal options.