Bladder Cancer

If you have bladder cancer, you're probably in a lot of pain. Bladder cancer can make it hurt to urinate and cause lower back pain. Needing to urinate but wanting to avoid pain, or not being able to, can feel hard to live with. 

At UVA, we work quickly to get your symptoms manageable. You can depend upon a care team that offers effective options for pain and treatment. 

Bladder Cancer Treatments

Our urological surgeons and cancer experts work together to develop your customized plan. We aim to remove cancer cells from your bladder while keeping as much healthy tissue as we can.

Options include:

  • Transurethral resection
  • Removal of all or part of the bladder
  • Radiation 
  • Chemotherapy
  • Biologic therapy

What to Expect With Bladder Cancer

Michael Devitt, MD, explains the risk factors for bladder cancer. He also covers types of treatment and therapy. View bladder cancer transcript.

Bladder Cancer Types & Risk

Three main types of cancer affect the bladder:

  • Transitional cell (urothelial) carcinoma — more than 90% of bladder cancers
  • Squamous cell carcinoma —a bout 4% of bladder cancers
  • Adenocarcinoma — about 1%-2% of bladder cancers

What's Your Risk?

bladder cancer diagram illustration
Bladder Cancer Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

You have a higher risk for bladder cancer with:

  • Smoking
  • Being over 65, white, and male
  • Chronic bladder inflammation or infection
  • Personal or family history of bladder cancer
  • Exposure to arsenic
  • Radiation treatment of the pelvis
  • Bladder birth defects
  • Chemical exposure
  • Urinary stones for many years
  • In-dwelling catheter for many years
  • Bladder diverticuli: an area of weakness in the bladder wall through which some of the lining of the bladder is forced out
  • Growth from another cancer

Many jobs expose people to harmful chemicals that cause bladder cancer.

Those at risk include:

  • Rubber, leather, and textile workers
  • Painters
  • Hairdressers
  • Machinists
  • Printers
  • Truck drivers
  • Petroleum industry workers


Your doctor will feel your abdomen and pelvis. You may need a rectal or vaginal exam.

We'll need to test your urine. Your doctor may also order a biopsy to remove a sample of bladder tissue to test for cancer cells.



Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.