Urothelial carcinoma (UC)

3 min read

What is UC?

What is UC?

Urothelial carcinoma (UC), sometimes called transitional cell carcinoma (TCC),   is the most common type of bladder cancer, accounting for approximately 90%  of all bladder cancers.


The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower pelvis that stores urine in the body. The kidneys produce urine by filtering water and waste products from the blood, and then sending the urine to the bladder through two tubes called ureters. When you urinate, muscles in the bladder contract, and the urine is pushed out of the bladder through a tube called the urethra. Urothelial carcinoma develops when a tumour forms in the cells that line the inside of the bladder. ​Some people may also get tumours in the central collecting area of the kidney (renal pelvis) and the tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder (ureters).


Urothelial carcinoma may be described in “stages” by your doctor. Typically, it is classified in 5 stages (0–4). The higher the stage number, the more the cancer has spread. Your healthcare team will use the stage number to help determine your treatment plan.


What causes UC?

What causes UC?

There are certain factors that can increase your risk of developing urothelial carcinoma, including:

  • Smoking
  • Abuse of pain medicine
  • Exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace
  • Chronic bladder infections or urinary tract stones
  • Genetic factors
  • Balkan nephropathy (a disease of the kidneys)

What are the most common symptoms of UC?

What are the most common symptoms of UC?

One of the first signs of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. Because of this, bladder cancer is often detected early, even if you do not experience other signs or symptoms of the disease. However, as it progresses, it may cause some of the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the lower back, on one side
  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles

How common is bladder cancer?

In 2019, it was estimated that 11,800 Canadians would be diagnosed with bladder cancer. And because bladder cancer is more common in men, it was estimated that men would represent more than 75% of all new diagnoses.

If you would like more information about urothelial carcinoma, speak with  your doctor.