The bladder, which is found in the lower pelvic cavity, stores urine until it’s ready to be excreted through the urethra. In men, the urethra is about 8 inches long and passes through the penis, while it’s about 1.5 inches long in women and opens at the upper aspect of the vaginal opening. When empty, the bladder’s approximately the shape and size of a pear. Before reaching the bladder, urine travels to the bladder from the kidneys through the ureters. The bladder is home to three layers of flexible, muscular walls which contract when urinating. As the bladder fills up with urine, these muscular walls expand. Interestingly, we generally start to feel the familiar urge to use the bathroom when our bladders are about halfway full; our bladders can actually hold approximately a pint of urine.
As with other organs, cancer could develop in your bladder. Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men, though it’s less common in women. Its most common type is called transitional cell carcinoma (TCC); this iteration comprises approximately 95% of all cases of bladder cancer and finds its origin in the urothelial cells that make up the bladder’s inner lining. The disease’s average age of diagnosis is 73, and about 90% of individuals diagnosed with bladder cancer are above the age of 55.
The disease has various potential symptoms, though it may also be asymptomatic. However, should you present with signs of bladder cancer, they could include:
- Frequent urination
- The urge to urinate frequently overnight
- The urge to urinate, but being unable to pass any urine
- The presence of blood or blood clots in your urine
- Burning or other painful sensations during urination
- Lower back pain on only one side of the body
Remember, however, that the above could also be signs of other conditions; it’s important to discuss any symptoms you may have with your physician.
The Ezra torso and full-body scans screen your bladder for cancerous and precancerous states, such as polyps. You can learn more about our pricing plans here.