A bladder tumor is a type of tumor that grows in the lining or other parts of the bladder. The tumor is caused by an overgrowth of cells in the bladder that results in the formation of a tumor, which can be either benign or cancerous. Either type of tumor can interfere with the function of the bladder and usually requires treatment.
A benign bladder tumor does not take over the normal cells of the bladder, and there is no risk of it spreading to other organs. It isn’t known for sure what causes benign bladder tumors to start, but they are typically discovered because they produce the same set of symptoms as do cancerous bladder tumors. Some of the more commonly seen symptoms include blood in the urine and painful urination.
A cancerous bladder tumor is a tumor that damages or destroys bladder tissue as it grows. Such tumors, as with any cancer, can metastasize to other parts of the body, causing the cancer to begin to grow in those places as well. Treatment becomes more difficult once the cancer has spread. The best prognosis is obtained when cancer can be identified and treated while it is still confined to the bladder.
Some factors are known to be associated with higher levels of bladder cancer. The number one cause of bladder cancer is smoking, which is a major factor in about half of the cases of bladder cancer, especially in the United States. Smokers have a rate of bladder cancer that is several times that of non-smokers. People who have been successfully treated for bladder cancer but continue to smoke have a much higher rate of tumor regrowth than do those who have quit smoking or who never started.
Other causes of bladder cancer are ongoing bladder infections and exposure to certain parasites and chemicals. People who have been infected with the parasite that causes schistosomiasis, generally found only in Africa, are at high risk for developing a bladder tumor, as are those who continually have bladder infections, no matter the cause. Industrial chemicals can also cause a bladder tumor to grow, especially if the person is exposed to such chemicals over a long period of time.
Once a person has had a bladder tumor, the risk of it regrowing is very high, and the patient must be continually monitored for years after the tumor has been removed. People who have had fast-growing, aggressive tumors need to be checked as often as every three months, while those with other types of tumors can be checked less often. Patients are monitored for years after their cancer has been treated, so that any bladder tumor that comes back can be treated quickly.