Bladder Cancer in Women

New Image

The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower part of the abdomen. It is shaped like a small balloon and has a muscular wall that allows it to get larger or smaller to store urine made by the kidneys. The bladder holds the urine until it passes through the urethra and leaves the body.

Most bladder cancers are transitional cell carcinomas (cancer that begins in cells that normally make up the inner lining of the bladder). Other types include squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma, which develop in the inner lining of the bladder as a result of chronic irritation and inflammation. 

Each year in the United States, more than 18,000 women are diagnosed with bladder cancer. Most are over age 70. 

Risk factors for bladder cancer

  • Smoking 
  • Having a family history of bladder cancer
  • Having certain changes in the genes that are linked to bladder cancer
  • Being exposed to certain chemicals in the workplace
  • Past treatment with certain anticancer drugs or radiation therapy to the pelvis
  • Taking Aristolochia fangchi, a Chinese herb
  • Drinking well water that has high levels of arsenic
  • Drinking water that has been treated with chlorine
  • Having a history of bladder infections
  • Using urinary catheters for a long time