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HealthInfo Canterbury

Bladder cancer

Bladder cancer happens when the cells lining the bladder become abnormal and grow into a tumour. The cancer can just be in the lining of the bladder. It can also get into the deeper layers of the bladder such as the muscle wall.

Causes of bladder cancer

Doctors don't know what causes bladder cancer, but males and people who smoke are more at risk. Although it can happen at any age, it's more common in people over 60. Exposure to certain chemicals may increase the risk of bladder cancer.

Symptoms of bladder cancer

The most common symptom is blood in the urine (haematuria). Less common symptoms include needing to urinate (wee) more frequently or urgently. You may have a burning sensation when you pass urine. You may also have a lower stomach or back pain. Some people don't have any symptoms.

Reducing my risk of bladder cancer

You can reduce your risk of getting bladder cancer by not smoking. You should also follow safety instructions around chemicals.

Diagnosing bladder cancer

Your GP will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. They may carry out a physical examination.

They may arrange tests including the Cxbladder triage test, which is done with other tests such as a urine test and either a CT scan or an ultrasound. They may also refer you to a specialist (urologist) for further testing.

Treating bladder cancer

Treatment will depend on several factors including the type of cancer. It may include surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Urology, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed November 2019.


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Page reference: 223751

Review key: HIBLA-223749