The bladder and brief anatomic descriptions
The bladder is a hollow, muscular, spherical organ which sits within the pelvis. Generally, its size correlates roughly to that of a large grapefruit, but in certain abnormal conditions, it can grow to much larger proportions. Its function is to collect and store the urine that has been made in the kidneys.
What is cancer?
Each organ in the body—stomach, liver, kidney, bladder, even skin—is made up of millions of cells. Cells are constantly dividing to replace the old or damaged ones, so that there is a constant "cell turnover" taking place. Cell turnover is very important to keep organs functioning properly.
Types of bladder cancers
More than 90% of bladder cancers are derived from the transitional epithelium and are thus called transitional cell carcinoma(TCC). The following list will categorize TCC from its "pre-invasive" state, known as carcinoma in situ, to its more invasive state when it penetrates beneath the epithelium, and finally to the point when it has metastasized or spread to distant organs. In addition, a short discussion will be made of the non-TCC bladder cancers.
Grading & staging of bladder cancer
Once bladder cancer is diagnosed, your physician will determine the grade and stage of the cancer. The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) provides guidelines for staging of bladder cancer. The stages range from Stage 0 to Stage IV and have detailed criteria for tumor size, invasiveness, presence in lymph nodes, and whether or not the cancer has metastasized (spread) to other organs.
Treating bladder cancer
Treatment for bladder cancer varies greatly depending on the stage of disease. Some treatments are standard and some are being tested in clinical trials.