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Bladder cancer is the rapid, uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the bladder. Cancer usually begins in the lining of the bladder. The cancerous cells may spread through the lining into the muscular wall of the bladder.
Most bladder cancer is found early, before it has spread into the bladder wall. Surgery can usually remove these tumors. But bladder cancer often comes back, so you may also get other treatments, such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy, to lower the chances of that happening.
Your treatment will depend on how far the cancer has spread.
CAUSES & CONDITIONS
It's not always clear what causes bladder cancer. Bladder cancer has been linked to smoking, a parasitic infection, radiation and chemical exposure.
Bladder cancer develops when cells in the bladder begin to grow abnormally. Rather than grow and divide in an orderly way, these cells develop mutations that cause them to grow out of control and not die. These abnormal cells form a tumor.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
- Blood in urine (hematuria) — urine may appear bright red or cola colored. Or urine may appear normal, but blood may be detected in a microscopic examination of the urine.
- Frequent urination.
- Painful urination.
- Back pain.
- Pelvic pain.
Although there's no guaranteed way to prevent bladder cancer, you can take steps to help reduce your risk. For instance:
- Don't smoke. Not smoking means that cancer-causing chemicals in smoke can't collect in your bladder. If you don't smoke, don't start. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about a plan to help you stop. Support groups, medications and other methods may help you quit.
- Take caution around chemicals. If you work with chemicals, follow all safety instructions to avoid exposure.
- Drink water throughout the day. In theory, drinking liquids, especially water, may dilute toxic substances that may be concentrated in your urine and flush them out of your bladder more quickly. Studies have been inconclusive as to whether drinking water will decrease your risk of bladder cancer.
- Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables. Choose a diet rich in a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables may help reduce your risk of cancer.