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Frequently asked questions

Below are answers to questions you may have about urothelial carcinoma (UC). Remember, for specific questions about your cancer or treatment, it’s best to reach out to your doctor for answers.


Most bladder cancers develop in the innermost lining of the bladder, called the urothelium. If the cancer grows into the other layers of the bladder wall, it becomes more advanced and can be harder to treat.

UC develops in cells of the urinary system. While 90% of UC is found in the bladder, UC may also occur in parts of the kidney, ureter, or urethra.


Bladder cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the United States, with approximately 80,000 new diagnoses a year.

UC is the most common type of bladder cancer. In fact, almost 90% of all bladder cancers are UC. Of those, approximately 12% of patients (about 8,600) are diagnosed with either locally advanced or metastatic UC.


Common bladder cancer symptoms can include blood in the urine, back and pelvic pain, swelling in the feet, weight loss, and bone pain.


Over time, cancers such as UC can spread throughout your body.

When tumors spread to nearby tissue or lymph nodes it’s called locally advanced. When tumors spread to other parts of your body, it’s called metastatic.


Urine test— A procedure where doctors examine certain features or abnormal appearing cells in the urine under a microscope.

Imaging test— Imaging tests can help to detect any masses or abnormalities in the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra.

CystoscopyAn examination of the bladder and urethra using a cystoscope. A cystoscope is a tube-shaped instrument that uses light and a lens for viewing the urinary tract.— A procedure that is done to examine the lining of the urethra and bladder.


There are a number of ways to treat this type of cancer. Four common treatments are:

  • Surgery, which removes cancer cells from the body
  • ChemotherapyCancer drugs that travel in your bloodstream to kill cancer cells throughout your body., which kills cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy radiation on cancer cells
  • ImmunotherapyA type of cancer treatment, like BAVENCIO® (avelumab), that uses the body's immune system to fight cancer., which helps your immune system kill cancer cells

Your doctor may also consider whether a clinical trial is right for you.


Smoking— People who smoke cigarettes are more likely to develop bladder cancer compared to people who have never smoked. Exposure to secondhand smoke also increases the risk.

Personal or family history of cancer— People who’ve had bladder cancer are more likely to get it again. Having a family history of bladder cancer may increase the risk of developing this disease. A family history of Lynch syndrome can also increase your risk of developing cancer in your urinary system.

Increasing age— Your risk of bladder cancer increases as you age. Bladder cancer can occur at any age, but it’s rarely found in people younger than 40.

Being a man— Men are more likely to develop bladder cancer than women.