Bladder cancer is a disease that begins in the bladder,
which is the organ that stores urine. This type of cancer usually begins in the
inner lining of the bladder and appears as small growths, shaped like mushrooms.
This is called papillary bladder cancer, which is a form of early bladder
The presence of blood in the urine (hematuria or haematuria) is the most common
symptom. However hematuria can be also related to non-cancerous conditions
such as cystitis or prostate infections.
Bladder cancer is classified by how far it has spread:
- Non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, also called superficial, is the type in
which the cancerous cells are still contained in the boundaries of the bladder.
It is the most common form and usually has a good prognosis.
- Muscle invasive bladder cancer. It refers to cancerous cells that spread
beyond the bladder.
In addition, bladder cancer can be classified by the appearance of the cancerous
- Urothelial carcinoma, also called Transitional cell carcinoma, is the most
common type. This cancer begins in cells, called transitional cells, located in
the bladder lining. It is associated with tobacco smoke.
- Squamous cell carcinoma. It is associated with chronic infections. -
- Other forms. Rare types include sarcoma, small cell cancer, and
The TNM is the staging system most commonly used. It meaning is interpreted as
- T, for Tumor, refers to how deep the tumor has spread. It is sub classified in
4 numbers, being T4 the higher value of tumor invasion.
- N, for Nodes, denotes that lymph nodes are affected. It is sub classified by
numbers from 0 to 3.
- M, for Metastasis, indicates that the cancer has spread beyond the bladder. M1
means the cancer has spread. M0 indicates that the cancer has not spread to
other parts of the body.
Tobacco smoke has been recognized as a main risk factor for almost half of all
cases of bladder cancer. Long-term exposure to certain chemicals and a family
history are also considered to be risk factors for developing bladder cancer.