What is bladder cancer? Cancer occurs when abnormal cells reproduce in an uncontrolled fashion. In the urinary bladder, the cells that are most likely to become cancerous are the transitional cells, the stretchy cells that form the lining or inner layer of the organ. Of the 52,000 men and 18,000 women diagnosed with bladder cancer in the United States each year, more than 90% have transitional cell cancers (Source: NCI). Bladder cancer is more common among older adults, males, and Caucasians. Although the specific cause is not known, various factors increase the risk of getting bladder cancer, including smoking and exposure to certain chemicals. Long-term inflammation, as can occur with chronic bladder infection, is associated with the more rare types of bladder cancer, such as squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Symptoms of bladder cancer can be similar to those of a bladder infection, such as needing to go to the bathroom urgently or frequently, as well as blood in the urine. Abdominal pain and urinary incontinence can also occur. The presence of abdominal, flank, or pelvic pain suggests spread of bladder cancer or advanced tumor spread. Weight loss can be seen with later-stage cancers. Bladder cancer that is caught early has an excellent prognosis and can often be treated with surgery alone or surgery plus intravesical therapy (therapeutic agents put directly into the bladder). More advanced cancers may be treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy alone or in combination with surgery. One symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. Slow rates of bleeding can eventually result in anemia. Sometimes, the bleeding can be more profuse. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for symptoms such as heavy bleeding, confusion, changes in level of consciousness, lethargy, sweating, pale or blue lips and fingernails, fast heart rate, difficulty breathing, or unusual anxiety. Seek prompt medical care for blood in the urine.