Bladder cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the bladder. The bladder, which is located in the lower abdomen, is a hollow organ with flexible muscular walls. Its primary function is to store urine until a person is ready to urinate.
Cancer occurs when cells in the body (in this case bladder cells) divide without control or order. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue, called a growth or tumor, forms. The term cancer refers to malignant tumors, which can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor does not invade or spread.
There are three main types of cancer that affect the bladder. They are named for the type of cell that becomes cancerous:
- Transitional cell (urothelial) carcinoma—accounts for more than 90% of bladder cancers
- Squamous cell carcinoma—accounts for about 4% of bladder cancers
- Adenocarcinoma—accounts for about 1%-2% of bladder cancers
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