Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer forms in tissues of the bladder, the organ that stores urine. The majority of bladder cancers are called transitional cell carcinomas, cancer that begins in cells that normally make up the inner lining of the bladder. Other types include:

Squamous cell carcinoma--cancer that begins in thin, flat cells;

Adenocarcinoma--cancer that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids;

Superficial bladder cancer- cancer that is confined to the lining of the bladder; and

Invasive bladder cancer- cancer that begins in the transitional cells may spread through the lining of the bladder and invade the muscle wall of the bladder or spread to nearby organs and lymph nodes.

The cells that form squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma develop in the inner lining of the bladder as a result of chronic irritation and inflammation.

Stages of Bladder Cancer:

Stage 0: The cancer cells are found only on the surface of the inner lining of the bladder. The doctor may call this carcinoma in situ.

Stage I: The tumor has grown deeper into the inner lining of the bladder. But it hasn’t invaded the muscle layer of the bladder.

Stage II: The tumor has invaded the muscle layer of the bladder.

Stage III: The tumor has grown through the muscle layer to reach tissues near the bladder, such as the prostate, uterus, or vagina.

Stage IV: The tumor has invaded the wall of the pelvis or abdomen, but cancer is not found in any lymph nodes. Or, the cancer cells have spread to at least one lymph node or to parts of the body far away from the bladder, such as the liver, lungs, or bones.

Treatment of Bladder Cancer:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Biologic therapy

New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials:


Chemoprevention is the use of drugs, vitamins, or other substances to reduce the risk of developing cancer or to reduce the risk that cancer will recur (come back).

Photodynamic therapy

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a cancer treatment that uses a drug and a certain type of laser light to kill cancer cells. A drug that is not active until it is exposed to light is injected into a vein. The drug collects more in cancer cells than in normal cells. Fiber optic tubes are then used to carry the laser light to the cancer cells, where the drug becomes active and kills the cells. Photodynamic therapy causes little damage to healthy tissue.

Search for clinical trials in Georgia.

* Information given is about TCC (transitional cell carcinomas) of the bladder*

Adapted from the National Cancer Institute's PDQ Database: (Accessed July 2016)