Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the Bladder- for Pet Owners

Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the urinary bladder (also called TCC) can cause signs such as blood in the urine and straining to urinate in dogs. If your dog has developed these signs please be aware that urinary tract infection and other non-cancerous conditions of the bladder are much more common than transitional cell carcinoma.

Diagnosis of transitional cell carcinoma usually follows visualisation of a mass on ultrasound of the bladder and biopsy of the mass. Biopsy is most often performed by passing a urinary catheter into the bladder to collect cells but can also be performed surgically or by passing a camera to collect a biopsy by a process called cystoscopy. Regardless of the method of biopsy, a diagnosis cannot be accurately made without collecting a piece of tissue from the mass and having it assessed by a pathologist.

Transitional cell carcinoma generally occurs at a region of the bladder called the trigone which makes removing the tumour surgically difficult (due to other important anatomical structures in this area). Radiation therapy when given as IMRT (intensity-modulated radiation therapy) is a relatively new treatment option that shows some promise but availability is limited geographically.

Most dogs with transitional carcinoma of the bladder instead receive chemotherapy and approximately 75% of dogs have their tumour controlled with this treatment option and experience very good quality of life. This tumour is, sadly, rarely curable but survival times beyond a year can be achieved in many dogs with chemotherapy treatment. General information on chemotherapy in dogs and cats can be found here.