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Bladder Cancer

The bladder is part of your urinary tract. Your urinary tract rids your body of liquid waste. Bladder cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed malignancy in men in the United States.

Three types of bladder cancer tumors may form:

  • Papillary tumors stick out of the bladder lining on a stalk. They tend to grow into the bladder cavity and away from the bladder wall instead of growing deeper into the layers of the bladder wall.
  • Sessile tumors lie flat against the bladder lining and can grow deep into the bladder wall
  •  Carcinoma in situ is a cancerous patch of bladder lining

Each type of tumor can be present in one or more areas, and more than one type can be present at the same time.

Bladder Cancer Staging

As cancer cells multiply, the tumor grows. Bladder cancer begins in the lining of the bladder and often doesn’t grow beyond that layer. As the tumor gets larger, however, it may invade (grow into) deeper layers of the bladder. It may also invade nearby organs, such as the prostate in men or the uterus in women.

Cells can break off from the main tumor and enter the bloodstream or lymph nodes. Blood or lymph then carries the cells to other areas of the body, such as the bones, liver or lungs, where a new growth may form. This process is called metastasis.

Once cancer has been diagnosed, your doctor will check to see how deep the cancer has grown and whether it has spread. In other words, your doctor will determine the cancer stage by looking inside the bladder during cystoscopy and using tests that show images of the bladder, the areas around it and parts of the body to which the cancer may spread.

Bladder cancer has three stages:

  • Superficial Stage: At the superficial stage, the tumor is confined to the bladder lining and the submucosal layer of the bladder
  • Invasive Stage: At the invasive stage, the tumor has begun to grow into the muscle or fat layers of the bladder
  • Metastatic Stage: At the metastatic stage, cancer cells from the main tumor have spread to other areas of the body