The bladder is a hollow, flexible pouch in your pelvis. Its main job is to store urine before it leaves your body. Your kidneys make pee. Tubes are called ureters to carry the pee from your kidneys to your bladder. When you use the bathroom, the muscles in your bladder push the urine out through a tube called the urethra.
You get bladder cancer when bladder cells become abnormal and grow out of control. Over time, a tumor forms. It can spread to nearby lymph nodes and other organs. In severe cases, it can spread to distant parts of your body, including your bones, lungs, or liver.
Bladder cancer is rare. It accounts for just 5% of all new cancers in the U.S.
What Causes It?
Doctors aren’t sure. But they do know that several things increase your risk for the disease. They include:
Genetic makeup, race, and family history. Bladder cancer is most common in white men over age 55. If you or someone in your immediate family (parents or siblings) has had cancer of the bladder or the urinary tract before, you’re more likely to get it.
Chronic bladder inflammation. If you have bladder infections that keep coming back or another condition that causes your bladder to be irritated for long periods of time, you have a bigger risk of getting bladder cancer.
Smoking. Every time you inhale tobacco fumes, you’re taking in all kinds of harmful chemicals. Research shows that smoking is the cause of about 50% of all bladder cancers.