What Is Bladder Cancer in Children?
Bladder cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the bladder. The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower part of the abdomen. It is shaped like a small balloon and has a muscle wall that allows it to get bigger or smaller. Tiny tubules in the kidneys filter and clean the blood. They take out waste products and make urine. The urine passes from each kidney through a long tube called a ureter into the bladder. The bladder holds the urine until it passes through the urethra and leaves the body.
The most common type of bladder cancer is transitional cell cancer. Squamous cell and other more aggressive types of bladder cancer are less common.
What Are the Risk Factors and Symptoms of Childhood Bladder Cancer?
The risk of bladder cancer is increased in females who have been treated for cancer with certain anticancer drugs called alkylating agents.
Bladder cancer may cause any of the following signs and symptoms. Check with your child’s doctor if your child has any of the following:
Other conditions that are not bladder cancer may cause the same signs and symptoms.
What Tests Diagnose Childhood Bladder Cancer?
Tests to diagnose and stage bladder cancer may include the following:
Other tests used to diagnose bladder cancer include the following:
- Urinalysis: A test to check the color of urine and its contents, such as sugar, protein, red blood cells, and white blood cells.
- Urine cytology: A laboratory test in which a sample of urine is checked under a microscope for abnormal cells.
- Cystoscopy: A procedure to look inside the bladder and urethra to check for abnormal areas. A cystoscope is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. A cystoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue samples, which are checked under a microscope for signs of cancer.
What Is the Treatment and Prognosis for Childhood Bladder Cancer?
In children, bladder cancer is usually low grade (not likely to spread) and the prognosis is usually excellent after surgery to remove the tumor.
Treatment of bladder cancer in children is usually the following:
- Transurethral resection (TUR). This is a surgical procedure to remove tissue from the bladder using a resectoscope inserted into the bladder through the urethra. A resectoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light, a lens for viewing, and a tool to remove tissue and burn away any remaining tumor cells. Tissue samples are checked under a microscope for signs of cancer.
Treatment of recurrent bladder cancer in children may include the following:
- A clinical trial that checks a sample of the patient’s tumor for certain gene changes. The type of targeted therapy that will be given to the patient depends on the type of gene change.
For more information, read our full medical article about bladder cancer signs, symptoms, treatment, and prognosis.