Bladder cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States. It begins in the urothelial cells that line the bladder. Though bladder cancer commonly develops in the organ that gives it its name, it can begin in any part of the urinary tract that drains into the bladder. Bladder cancer occurs when cells in the bladder and urinary tract begin to grow at an abnormal rate. The process that tells the cells it is time to die fails, and they continue to reproduce.
A tumor is simply a growth that contains excess cells. Bladder cancer is divided into three types: urothelial carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma. Urothelial cell carcinoma occurs in the cells inside the bladder. Squamous cell carcinoma develops in conjunction with chronic bladder inflammation. Adenocarcinoma occurs in the mucus-secreting cells of the bladder.
Bladder cancer occurs more often in men than in women and is more common in older adults. Those that have chronic bladder infections are at an increased risk for developing bladder cancer. Other risk factors include smoking, increased age, previous cancer treatment, and those with a family history of cancer. Exposure to certain industries and chemicals also increases the risk. People who were exposed to arsenic and other chemicals used to make dyes, leather, rubber, paint, and textiles are also at an increased risk. The prognosis for bladder cancer is generally considered good when diagnosed in early. However, even when treated successfully, this type of cancer has a high rate of recurrence.
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