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 the 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 MAIN DISEASE STATES FOR BLADDER CANCERBladder cancer staging 1

  1. Non-muscle invasive bladder cancer means the cancer is confined to the bladder lining.

  2. Invasive bladder cancer is cancer that has invaded into the muscular walls of the bladder or tissue surrounding the bladder. 

  3. Metastatic bladder cancer is cancer that has spread to other organs.

STAGING bladder cancer

Bladder cancer staging 2

  • 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.

YOUR UROLOGIST WILL ALSO CLASSIFY THE TUMOR AS EITHER LOW GRADE OR HIGH GRADE

The 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 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. When examined under a microscope, these cancer cells appear very abnormal and distinct from normal healthy tissue.

Learn more about treatment options for bladder cancer. 

Learn about bladder cancer prevention.