CANCER ANSWER TUESDAYS
WHAT IS BLADDER CANCER?
To understand bladder cancer, it helps to know about the normal structure and function of the bladder.
THE NORMAL BLADDER
The bladder is a hollow organ in the pelvis with flexible, muscular walls. Its main function is to store urine before it leaves the body. The average adult bladder holds about 2 cups of urine. Urine is made by the kidneys and is then carried to the bladder through tubes called ureters.
When you urinate, the muscles in the bladder contract, and urine is forced out of the bladder through a tube called the urethra. In women, the urethra is very short and opens just above the vagina. In men, the urethra is longer. It passes through the prostate gland and the penis, and opens at the tip of the penis.
The wall of the bladder has 4 main layers.
The innermost lining is made up of cells called urothelial or transitional cells, so this layer is called the urothelium or transitional epithelium.
Beneath the urothelium is a thin layer of connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves, which is called the lamina propria.
Next is a thick layer of muscle called the muscularis propria.
Outside of this muscle, a layer of fatty connective tissue separates the bladder from other nearby organs.
Knowing about these layers is important in understanding how bladder cancer grows. Most bladder cancers start in the urothelium. As the cancer grows into or through the other layers in the bladder, it becomes more advanced (see “How is bladder cancer staged?”) and harder to treat.
TYPES OF BLADDER CANCER
Bladder cancers are divided into several types based how their cells look under a microscope. Different types can respond differently to treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy.
Click Here to continue reading the complete breakdown on the American Cancer Society website.