Staging bladder cancer
If bladder cancer is diagnosed, the doctor needs to know the stage, or extent, of the disease to determine the best treatment. Staging attempts to identify whether cancer has invaded the bladder wall, whether the disease has spread, and if so, to what parts of the body. In generally, bladder cancers are graded based on how they appear under the microscope.
Low-grade cancers – These types of cancers look more like normal bladder tissue. They are also called well-differentiated cancers. These cancers usually have a good prognosis (outlook).
High-grade cancers – A high grade cancer appears less like normal tissue. These cancers are also referred to as poorly differentiated or undifferentiated. High-grade cancers are more likely to grow into the bladder wall and to spread outside the bladder. These cancers tend to have a less favorable prognosis.
Stages of bladder cancer
The main features of each stage of the disease are characterized and defined by stages 0-4. The characteristics of each stage are outlined below.
Stage 0 - The cancer cells are found only on the surface of the inner lining of the bladder. The doctor may call this superficial cancer or carcinoma in situ.
Stage 1 - The cancer cells are found deep in the inner lining of the bladder. They have not spread to the muscle of the bladder.
Stage 2 - The cancer cells have spread to the muscle of the bladder.
Stage 3 - The cancer cells have spread through the muscular wall of the bladder to the layer of tissue surrounding the bladder. The cancer cells may have spread to the prostate (in men) or to the uterus or vagina (in women).
Stage 4 - The cancer extends to the wall of the abdomen or to the wall of the pelvis. The cancer cells may have spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body far away from the bladder, such as the lungs.
Once staging has occurred, treatment for bladder cancer can begin. But what treatments are commonly used and most effective? To learn more about various approaches and options used to treat bladder cancer, continue reading the next section called Bladder Cancer Treatment here.