Bladder Cancer FAQs

Bladder Cancer Questions & Answers

Mercy is a leader in bladder cancer treatment and diagnosis. Bladder cancer is a type of genitourinary cancer that starts in the bladder and is fairly common.  Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about bladder cancer.

It’s common for someone to experience abdominal pain as a symptom of bladder cancer. Other common signs and symptoms of bladder cancer may include blood in your urine, pain when urinating and sudden loss of weight or appetite. 

Yes. If you have surgery to have your whole bladder removed, you’ll need another way for your body to store and release urine. There are several types of reconstructive surgeries commonly performed to make sure your body can still function properly after your cancer is removed. 

During a cystoscopy, your Mercy doctor uses a tool called a cystoscope to look at the insides of your bladder and urethra for signs of cancer. A cystoscope is a very thin tube with a light and a small camera on the end. Your Mercy doctor may remove a bladder stone or take a biopsy during this procedure as well. 

When cancer spreads, it’s known as metastasis. Bladder cancer can spread to any other organ in the body over time. For example, it can spread to nearby lymph nodes, the liver, lung or bone. When bladder cancer spreads to other parts of the body it’s still called bladder cancer. For instance, if your bladder cancer spreads to your lungs, you do not also have lung cancer, but bladder cancer in the lung. 

While kidney stones are not a direct sign of bladder cancer, recent studies suggest that individuals with a prolonged history of developing kidney stones may be at greater risk. Kidney stones can cause chronic irritation and abnormal infections, which can accelerate the development of cancer cells. 

Bladder cancer can come back for a variety of reasons, but most of them are closely related to the grade and the stage of your tumor. Your individual treatment options can also affect whether your cancer recurs at a later date. 

Like all other cancers, bladder cancer has a better chance of being cured if it’s caught early. But even if your bladder cancer is treated, there’s always a chance that it may return. That’s why it’s important for your Mercy doctor to closely monitor your situation, even after any kind of treatment or surgery. 

Survival rates are based on general estimates and don’t necessarily apply to each person’s unique diagnosis. However, according to the American Cancer Society, the general 5-year survival rate for bladder cancer is 90%. That percentage goes up if your bladder cancer has not spread beyond the inner layer of the bladder wall, and goes down if your cancer has spread to nearby organs or distant parts of the body.

How fast bladder cancer spreads depends largely on its grade, which measures how much your cancerous tissue looks like healthy tissue under a microscope. High-grade bladder cancer tissue looks different from healthy tissue and is more likely to spread aggressively. Low-grade bladder cancer tissue looks similar to normal tissue and is less likely to spread or become life-threatening.