Bladder Cancer Overview
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The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower abdomen (pelvis). It collects and stores urine produced by the kidneys.
Cancer occurs when normal cells undergo a degenerative, dangerous, or what is called a malignant change or transformation causing them to grow abnormally and multiply without normal controls. A mass of cancerous cells is called a malignant tumor or cancer. The cancerous cells are capable of spreading to other areas of the body through the process of metastasis. A cancer can become destructive locally to the tissues adjacent to where it arises. Cancer cells can also metastasize. Metastasis means that cells spread through the tissue fluid's circulation called the lymphatic system or through the blood stream where they can then stop off in other tissues or organs where they may grow as metastases or metastatic deposits and can become destructive in these new locations. The term cancer is further described by the tissue in which it has arisen. For example: bladder cancer is a different disease than lung cancer. If a bladder cancer cell metastasizes – that is, spreads to the lungs through the bloodstream it is still called, and is treated as bladder cancer- not as lung cancer.
Cells which transform in a less dangerous fashion may still multiply and form masses or tumors. These are called benign tumors. They do not metastasize.
Of the different types of cells that form the bladder, the cells lining the inside of the bladder wall are those most likely to develop cancer. Any of three different cell types can become cancerous. The resulting cancers are named after the cell types.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/17/2015
Gary David Steinberg, MD
Mark H. Katz, MD
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