Bladder Cancer: About Bladder Cancer

The bladder is a holding tank for urine after it passes through the kidneys and before it leaves the body.

Four layers of tissue line the bladder.

  • The innermost layer is the mucosa (also called the urothelium). This is made up of transitional cells.
  • Moving outward, the next layer consists mainly of connective tissue.
  • Next is a layer of muscle tissue.
  • Wrapped around the muscle is a layer of fatty tissue that separates the bladder from other organs.

Most bladder cancers develop in the urothelium or innermost layer. As cancer spreads toward the outer wall of the bladder (the fatty tissue) it requires more extensive surgery and chemotherapy to treat it effectively.

When bladder cancer is detected early, it often can be removed by insertion of a lighted fiberoptic tube called a cystoscope. However even early bladder cancers can recur and require continuing regular surveillance. When bladder cancer is more advanced it can require extensive surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

  • Non-invasive bladder cancers involve the inner layer of bladder cells but have not extended into the muscle layer.
  • Invasive cancers grow into the connective tissue or even deeper into the muscle layer. Invasive cancers require more intensive treatment and are more likely to spread to other organs