There are four main types of bladder cancer:

  • Urothelial or transitional cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Small cell carcinoma

Each type of bladder cancer depends on how tumor cells look under a microscope. Urothelial carcinoma accounts for more than 90% of all bladder cancers.

If your doctor thinks you might have bladder cancer, he or she may recommend Cxbladder. This is an accurate, easy-to-use urine test that helps rule out bladder cancer. It can give you confidence, reassurance and peace of mind.

types of bladder cancer2

Urothelial carcinoma

  • Almost all bladder cancers start in the urothelium.
  • When the bladder is empty, urothelial cells bunch together. When it is full, the cells stretch out. The cells can then be reached by urinary chemicals (e.g. from cigarette smoke) that may cause bladder cancer.
  • If bladder cancer affects only the urothelium it is called superficial or non-invasive.
  • Bladder cancers may spread into deeper bladder layers; they are then more difficult to treat.
  • If bladder cancer spreads from the urothelium to the muscle layer it is called invasive.

Superficial (non-invasive) bladder cancer

  • Superficial bladder cancer is early-stage disease that affects the bladder lining (urothelium) only.
  • Small, ‘finger-like’ growths project from the inside surface of the bladder towards its hollow center. This is called papillary bladder cancer. These growths (e.g. Ta tumors) can be removed quite easily by your surgeon, and they may never come back (recur).
  • However, some types of early-stage bladder cancer are more likely to recur. These include carcinoma in situ (CIS or Tis) and high-grade T1 tumors.
  • CIS or Tis tumors. Unlike other superficial bladder cancers, these tumors are flat and do not grow out of the bladder lining. These tumor cells look irregular and can grow rapidly. This is called high-grade disease. It is more likely to recur than other types of superficial bladder cancer.
  • T1 tumors. These tumors are superficial bladder cancers that have spread from the bladder lining (urothelium) to the layer of connective tissue underneath (the lamina propria). High-grade T1 tumors can grow rapidly. About 30–40% of all T1 tumors will recur.
  • Treatment. If you have a Tis or T1 rather than Ta tumor, your doctor may suggest that you need additional treatment. You will also require regular follow-up visits so that your doctor can detect the cancer early, if it recurs.

Invasive bladder cancer

  • Urothelial cancer can become invasive and spread to deeper layers of the bladder wall.
  • In some cases, bladder cancer may be invasive when it is first detected.
  • Invasive rather than superficial bladder cancer requires more aggressive treatment.
  • Invasive bladder cancer can spread or metastasize to other parts of the body.
  • The stages of bladder cancer that are invasive are T2, T3 and T4 tumors.

Last Updated: 16 Apr 2021 02:15 pm

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