Bladder Cancer: Symptoms and Treatments

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  • 0:02 Cancer Recurrence
  • 0:23 Transitional Cell Carcinoma
  • 2:18 The Causes of a TCC
  • 3:02 Signs, Diagnosis, and…
  • 5:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

In this lesson, you will learn about bladder cancer, including the most common forms of bladder cancer, what transitional epithelium is, and how to help distinguish bladder cancer from other forms of urinary tract disease.

Cancer Recurrence

Cancer can occur just about anywhere in the body. Sometimes it can be cured and other times it is completely incurable. Additionally, some cancers can be beaten back only to recur again. Regrettably, the type of cancer that is most likely to recur after treatment is a type of malignancy this lesson will focus on.

Transitional Cell Carcinoma

This cancer, termed bladder cancer, is actually an umbrella term that can relate to one of many different types of specifically classified cancers that can affect the bladder. The bladder, as I think you know, is the balloon-like structure that contains urine that is produced by the kidneys.

The most common type of bladder cancer in industrialized nations is known as transitional cell carcinoma (or TCC), but in developing nations the most common type of bladder cancer is a squamous cell carcinoma (or SCC). The reason a TCC is called this is not very difficult to understand if you already know your bladder histology (which is the study of tissues).

The bladder is an organ that can expand and collapse back down over and over again as urine fills it and empties from it. This property, the one that allows the bladder to accommodate all of this urine, is partially owed to something known as a transitional epithelium. This is a layer of cells found lining the inside of the bladder that can contract and expand as necessary, meaning they squish down into a pancake shape (technically known as a squamous shape) when the bladder gets full, to accommodate more urine. But the cells of this epithelium perk back up into a cuboidal shape when there is no urine in the bladder to squish them down.

Their function reminds me of that NASA memory foam mattress commercial where they show a woman's hand pressing down into the mattress, squishing it, and, therefore, leaving an imprint. However, after the woman lets go, the memory foam eventually pops back up into place as if nothing happened before.

The Causes of a TCC

With that out of the way, I think you're going to learn a couple shocking facts even if you already knew all of the information I just discussed. The first shocking fact is that the most common cause of a transitional cell carcinoma is smoking. You read and heard that right. Terribly so, smoking causes problems all over the body, not just the lungs, and is the number one cause of many different cancers, including bladder cancer. Another shocking fact is that a parasitic infection by a trematode, known as Schistosoma haematobium, causes SCC. Who knew that a parasite can lead to cancer?

Signs, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Disturbing as that may sound, what may be even more disturbing to a person with bladder cancer is the appearance of blood in the urine, known as hematuria. I think anyone will be taken aback when they urinate out a red stream into the toilet bowl. The catch here is that hematuria can be as a result of other problems, such as a urinary tract infection where bacteria lead to inflammation and bleeding, stones in the urinary tract that beat up on your urinary tract tissues, kidney trauma, and much more.

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