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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Bladder cancer

Matepukupuku tōngāmimi

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 do not 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 55. 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 wee (urinate) more frequently or urgently. You may have a burning sensation when you wee. You may also have a lower stomach or back pain. Some people do not have any symptoms.

Diagnosing bladder cancer

Your general practice team 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.

You may need a procedure known as a cystoscopy, when a narrow camera tube is passed into your bladder to allow the doctor to see inside and take a sample if needed.

Treating bladder cancer

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

Reducing your risk of bladder cancer

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

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed April 2023.


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Page reference: 223751

Review key: HIBLA-223749