Font Size
A
A
A
2
...

Bladder Cancer (cont.)

More Bladder Cancer Overview

Staging

A cancer is “staged” using a system developed by consensus among specialists in cancer.

It describes the extent of the cancer when it is first found or diagnosed. This includes the depth of invasion of a bladder cancer, and whether or not the cancer is still only in the bladder, or has already spread to tissues beyond the bladder including lymph nodes, or distant organs.

Bladder cancers are classified by how deeply they invade into the bladder wall, which has several layers. Typically we subdivide bladder cancer into superficial and invasive diseases.

  • Nearly all adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are invasive. Thus, by the time these cancers are detected, they have usually already invaded the bladder wall.
  • Many urothelial cell carcinomas are not invasive. This means that they go no deeper than the superficial layer (mucosa) of the bladder.

In addition to how deeply the cancer penetrates in the bladder wall, the grade of the bladder cancer provides important information and can help guide treatment. The tumor grade is based on the degree of abnormality observed in a microscopic evaluation of the tumor. Cells from a high-grade cancer have more changes in form and have a greater degree of abnormality when viewed microscopically than do cells from a low-grade tumor. This information is provided by the pathologist, a physician trained in the science of tissue analysis and diagnosis.

  • Low-grade tumors are usually less aggressive.
  • High-grade tumors are more dangerous and have a propensity to become invasive even if they are not invasive when first found.
  • Papillary tumors are urothelial carcinomas that grow narrow, finger-like projections.
  • Benign (noncancerous) papillary tumors (papillomas) grow projections out into the hollow part of the bladder. These can be easily removed, but they sometimes grow back.
  • These tumors vary greatly in their potential to come back (recur). Some types rarely recur after treatment; other types are very likely to do so.
  • Papillary tumors also vary greatly in their potential to be malignant (invasive). A small percentage (about 15%) do invade the bladder wall. Some invasive papillary tumors grow projections both into the bladder wall and into the hollow part of the bladder.

In addition to papillary tumors, bladder cancer can develop in the form of a flat, red (erythematous) patch on the mucosal surface. This is called carcinoma-in-situ (CIS). Although these tumors are superficial, they are often high-grade and have a high risk for becoming invasive.

Of all types of cancer, bladder cancer has an unusually high propensity for recurring after initial treatment if that treatment was only a local removal or excision typically by transurethral resection. Bladder cancer treated in that fashion has a recurrence rate of 50% to 80%. The recurring cancer is usually, but not always, of the same type as the first (primary) cancer. It may be in the bladder or in another part of the urinary tract (kidneys or ureters).

Bladder cancer is most common in industrialized countries. It is the fifth most common type of cancer in the United States. It is the fourth most common in men and the ninth in women.

  • Each year, about 67,000 new cases of bladder cancer are expected, and about 13,000 people will die of the disease in the U.S.
  • Bladder cancer affects three times as many men as women. Women, however, often have more advanced tumors than men at the time of diagnosis.
  • Whites — both men and women — develop bladder cancers twice as often as other ethnic groups. In the United States, African Americans and Hispanics have similar rates of this cancer. Rates are lowest in Asians.
  • Bladder cancer can occur at any age, but it is most common in people older than 50 years of age. The average age at the time of diagnosis is in the 60s. However, it clearly appears to be a disease of aging, with people in their 80s and 90s developing bladder cancer as well.
  • Because of its high recurrence rate and the need for lifelong surveillance, bladder cancer is among the most expensive cancers to treat on a per patient basis.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/12/2013
Medical Author:
Medical Author:

Must Read Articles Related to Bladder Cancer

CT Scan (CAT Scan, Computerized Axial Tomography)
CT Scan History CT was discovered independently by a British engineer named Sir Godfrey Hounsfield and Dr. Alan Cormack. It has become a mainstay for diagnosing med...learn more >>
Cystoscopy
Cystoscopy Cystoscopy is the use of a scope (cystoscope) to examine the bladder. This is done either to look at the bladder for abnormalities or to help with surgery being...learn more >>
Urinalysis
Urinalysis Urinalysis (UA) is a commonly ordered medical test to analyze urine. It may be used to diagnose urinary tract infections (UTIs) or kidney stones, to screen for ...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Bladder Cancer:

Bladder Cancer - Symptoms

What symptoms of your bladder cancer?

Bladder Cancer - Experience

Please describe your experience with bladder cancer.

Bladder Cancer - Effective Treatment

What treatment has been effective for your bladder cancer?

Bladder Cancer - Staging

What stage was your bladder cancer when you were diagnosed?

Bladder Cancer - Prognosis

What is the prognosis for your bladder cancer?

Bladder Cancer - Causes

What caused your bladder cancer?

Bladder Cancer - Exams and Tests

Please describe your experience with exams and tests for bladder cancer.





Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Bladder Cancer »

Bladder cancer is a common urologic cancer.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


Medical Dictionary