Key Points about Bladder Adenocarcinoma

  • Bladder adenocarcinoma is very rare, making up approximately 1% of all bladder cancer cases.
  • Doctors use imaging tests, urinalysis and physical exams to diagnose bladder adenocarcinoma.
  • Treatment for bladder adenocarcinoma may involve surgery, medication or other cancer treatments.


Bladder adenocarcinoma is a very rare type of bladder cancer that makes up just 1% of bladder cancer cases. Bladder cancer occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. These usually begin in the inner urothelial lining. Adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that can grow in any part of the bladder or spread from other regions. It usually begins in the mucus-secreting glands in the bladder.

Adenocarcinoma is similar to the gland-forming cells of colon cancer. This type of cancer is usually invasive.

Bladder adenocarcinoma causes

Adenocarcinoma of the bladder is caused when cells in the bladder develop mutations (changes) in their DNA.

Bladder adenocarcinoma risk factors

The following factors may increase your risk for developing bladder adenocarcinoma:

  • Being older
  • Being male
  • Certain congenital bladder defects
  • Chronic (long-lasting) infection and inflammation of the bladder
  • Personal or family history of bladder cancer
  • Smoking

Bladder adenocarcinoma symptoms

Signs and symptoms of bladder adenocarcinoma can include:

  • Hematuria (blood in your urine)
  • Needing to urinate frequently
  • Pain in your back
  • Pain while urinating

Bladder adenocarcinoma diagnosis

Your oncologist may use one or more of the following tests to diagnose bladder adenocarcinoma:

  • Physical exam - your doctor will perform a complete physical exam, including asking questions about your health history and related risk factors.
  • Biopsy - in this test, your doctor removes a biopsy (small tissue sample) from your bladder. Laboratory specialists analyze the tissue sample and check for abnormalities.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan - your doctor may order a CT scan of your bladder. This specialized imaging test uses a series of X-ray images to create detailed images of the inside of your body.
  • Cystoscopy - in this test, your doctor uses a cystoscope (thin, flexible tube) with a camera on the end to closely examine your urethra (a tube through which urine exits the body) and bladder.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - this imaging test uses magnets and computer-generated radio waves to create detailed images of the inside of your body.
  • Ultrasound - your doctor may order an ultrasound, an imaging test that uses sound waves to create detailed images of the inside of your body.
  • Urinalysis - your doctor may order this test, which checks a sample of your urine for abnormal levels of blood, protein or bacteria. These can be signs of problems with your bladder, kidneys or ureters.

Bladder adenocarcinoma treatments

Depending on your personal health history, the extent of your condition and other factors, your oncologist may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:

  • Biological therapies - these types of treatments involve using the body’s immune system to fight cancer. 
  • Chemotherapy - this treatment involves the use of medications to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs can be delivered via a pill taken orally (by mouth) or an intravenous or IV liquid (injected into a vein).
  • Radiation therapy - in this treatment, your oncologist uses targeted radiation beams to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy is often used after surgery to eradicate any cells that couldn’t be removed surgically. 
  • Surgery - your oncologist may recommend surgery to remove the cancer cells. Depending on the extent of the adenocarcinoma, your surgeon may also need to remove some bladder tissue. Your surgeon may surgically remove the cancer cells or use laser or electrical current to destroy cancer cells.

When should I seek care?

If you experience any of these symptoms, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing an oncologist  for more specialized treatment. 

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