Understanding Bladder Cancer: Stages

What “Stages” Mean

Once bladder cancer has been diagnosed, it’s important to know what stage of cancer you have. Knowing what stage your cancer is tells you how serious it is. The stage of stomach cancer depends on the size of the cancer, lymph node involvement and if there is any spread of the tumor. It helps your doctor plan the right course of treatment.

The TNM staging system is used for all types of cancer, not just bladder cancer. The letters TNM describe the amount and spread of cancer in your body.

  • T: indicates how large the tumor is.
  • N: indicates whether the cancer has spread to surrounding lymph nodes.
  • M: indicates metastasis, which means that cancer has spread to other body parts.

Stages are usually often labeled using Roman numerals 0 through IV (0-4). Higher numbers mean cancer has spread and the cancer is more advanced.

Stages of bladder cancer are determined by 2 factors: grade and spread. Let’s look at what each of these means.

Grade: How normal the cancer cells look. If they look like normal cells, the cancer is low-grade. If they look very different, the cancer is high grade. Low-grade cancers grow more slowly. They have a better outcome.

Spread: How deep the cancer grows. If it grows deeper in your bladder wall, it is called invasive. If not, it is non-invasive. The rare bladder cancers usually are more invasive. They include:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Small cell carcinoma

As we’ve mentioned before, these 3 kinds are very rare.

Next: How does colorectal cancer spread?

Back to “Understanding Colorectal Cancer: An Introduction”