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Bladder Cancer

The bladder is the organ that holds and releases urine. Bladder cancer starts when cells in the bladder grow out of control. Bladder cancers often start in the cells lining the bladder (called transitional cells).

If you've been recently diagnosed with bladder cancer, you and your family might be overwhelmed with questions and concerns. Your first decision is where to get treatment.

MultiCare Regional Cancer Center has the region’s best health care providers in the field on oncology. Our world-class treatment facility offers cutting edge technology in a welcoming and positive healing environment.

Learn about our comprehensive treatment approach, our cancer care team or more about bladder cancer in the tabs below.

Bladder Cancer Facts

The exact cause of bladder cancer is uncertain. However, several things increase your risk of developing bladder cancer, including:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Chemical exposure at work
  • Chemotherapy using the drug cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)
  • Radiation treatment for cervical cancer: Women who had radiation therapy to treat cervical cancer have an increased risk of developing bladder cancer.
  • Long-term bladder infection or irritation

Some research has suggested a link between artificial sweeteners and bladder cancer, but the evidence of this is weak.


Symptoms of bladder cancer can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in the urine
  • Bone pain or tenderness
  • Fatigue
  • Painful urination
  • Urinating frequently or having a strong urge to urinate
  • Leaking urine (urinary incontinence)
  • Weight loss

Many other diseases and conditions can cause similar symptoms, so it is important to see a doctor for a full medical exam.


To diagnose bladder cancer your doctor will perform a physical examination, including a rectal and pelvic exam.

Other tests that may be used to diagnose bladder cancer include:

  • Abdominal CT scan
  • Bladder biopsy 
  • Cystoscopy (examining the inside of the bladder with a camera)
  • Intravenous pyelogram - IVP
  • Pelvic CT scan
  • Urinalysis

If tests confirm you have bladder cancer, additional tests will be done to see if the cancer has spread. This is called staging. Staging helps guide future treatment and follow-up and gives you some idea of what to expect in the future.


Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer, the severity of your symptoms, and your overall health. Your treatment may include:

  • Surgery to remove the tumor without removing the rest of the bladder
  • Surgery to remove the entire bladder (radical cystectomy)
  • Surgery to remove only part of the bladder
  • Immunotherapy
  • A combination of chemotherapy and radiation