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Bladder Cancer Staging

If your doctor diagnoses bladder cancer, he or she will determine the stage and disease state of your cancer. Determining the disease state is a way of classifying cancer and whether or not it has spread to other areas of your body. This also helps your doctor plan for the best treatment protocol for you.

Three Disease States for Bladder Cancer

  • Non-muscle invasive bladder cancer means the cancer is confined to the bladder lining.
  • Invasive bladder cancer is cancer that has invaded into the muscular walls of the bladder or tissue surrounding the bladder.
  • Metastatic bladder cancer is cancer that has spread to other organs.

Stages Of Bladder Cancer

  • Tis: This is a flat, non-invasive cancer (also known as carcinoma in situ) that grows within the inner lining layer of the bladder only.
  • Ta: The tumor is non-invasive (e.g. has not invaded past the inner lining of the bladder).
  • T1: The tumor has grown from the layer of cells lining the bladder into the connective tissue below. It has not grown into the muscle layer of the bladder.
  • T2: The tumor has grown into the muscle layer.
  • T3: The tumor has grown through the muscle layer of the bladder and into the fatty tissue layer that surrounds it.
  • T4: The tumor has spread beyond the fatty tissue and into nearby organs or structures. It may be growing into any of the following: the stroma (main tissue) of the prostate, the seminal vesicles, uterus, vagina, pelvic wall, or abdominal wall.

Click here to see infographic that further explains.

Grading the Tumor

The tumor grade refers to the aggressiveness of the tumor and can help predict cancer recurrence and/or progression. By grading the tumor, your urologist will then be able to better create a plan of treatment.

Low or High-Grade Tumor?

Low grade is the least problematic type of cancer, but it still has a chance of recurring and progressing. The cancer cells look similar to normal cells but are slightly disorganized.
High grade is cancer that is most likely to recur and tends to progress and be more aggressive. These cancer cells appear very abnormal and distinct from healthy tissue.