Bladder cancer forms in the cells that line the inner wall of the urinary bladder (the organ that stores urine).
The incidence in the UK is approximately 11,000 new cases per year, most of these being early cases of the disease that is controlled by local therapies performed at cystoscopy (where the doctor looks inside the bladder and treats the cancer under direct vision). In early stages of the disease, this cure is the 'norm', but even for more advanced cases the survival rates are improving.
Most bladder cancers are transitional cell carcinomas (cancer that begins in so-called transitional cells that normally make up the inner lining of the bladder). Other types include squamous cell carcinoma (cancer that begins in thin, flat cells that have changed from the transitional cells that normally line the bladder - perhaps following chronic irritation of the bladder by chemicals or infections such as schistosomiasis) and adenocarcinoma (cancer that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids).
In the UK, the disease is found predominantly in older men and often with other medical problems. This can be a potential problem for the oncologist should the patient require treatment other than straightforward local cystoscopic therapy.