What are the types of bladder cancer?

Bladder and kidneys diagram

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Transitional cell bladder cancer (TCC)

About 9 in every 10 bladder cancers start in the transitional cells in the lining of the bladder. 

There are 2 types of TCC:

  1. Non-muscle-invasive (superficial) bladder cancer.
    This is earlier TCC that hasn’t invaded the deeper muscles of the bladder.
  2. Muscle invasive bladder cancer.
    This is TCC that has grown deeper into the bladder wall, into the muscle layer. 

Knowing the type of bladder cancer you have will help your medical team to decide on the best treatment for you . 

Non-muscle-invasive (superficial) bladder cancer

This cancer grows only in the lining of the bladder and hasn't grown into the deeper layers of the bladder wall.

The tumours often appear as small growths in the bladder lining, which can be removed easily in a short operation. You can have more operations if the cancer comes back. 

Some types of non-invasive cancers are fast-growing (high-grade) and may need extra treatment, as there is a higher chance they may reoccurrence in the future

For example, carcinoma in situ and T1 tumours. Read more about bladder cancer grades

Muscle-invasive bladder cancer

This means the cancer cells have grown into the muscle layer of the bladder, or beyond. There’s a risk that it can spread to other parts of the body. For example, nearby organs like the womb in women or the prostate gland in men (locally advanced cancer) or to other parts of your body like the liver, bones or lungs (metastatic cancer).

This type of cancer needs more intensive treatment than non-muscle-invasive bladder cancers.

Squamous cell bladder cancer 

This rare type of bladder cancer starts in the squamous cells, which make up the tissues that line our organs. Squamous cell bladder cancer is usually invasive. 


This is a very rare bladder cancer.  Adenocarcinoma starts in cells that produce mucus in the lining of our body organs. It is usually invasive.

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