A urinary bladder, or just bladder, is an organ in the pelvis located mostly in the pubic bone of the pelvis, but can also reach the lower half of the abdomen. It serves to hold urine that falls into it from the kidney. In essence, the bladder functions as a low-pressure basin that expands as the urine flows into it. The bladder contains three different layers surrounded by fat which are:
1. Inner layer (Mucosa) – layer closest to the urine, consisting of specialized cells called transitional cells or urothelial
2. Middle layer (Lamina propria) – creates a boundry between the inner and outer layers. Includes a network of blood vessels and nerves which is important in the stages of bladder cancer.
3. Outer layer (Muscularis) – Serves to aid in the contraction and expansion of the bladder with the intake or removal of the urine.
Bladder cancer, like many cancers, is the irregular growth and multiplication of cells in the urinary bladder. Furthermore, bladder cancer has the ability metastasize (spread) to other parts and organs of the body. Most bladder cancer starts in the inner layer of the bladder within the transitional cells, and becomes more aggressive as it reaches the middle and outer layers, and thus more difficult to treat.
What are the types of Bladder Cancer?
Bladder cancer can come in several different forms, which can dictate the type of treatment an individual can use to treat the cancer. The most common forms of bladder cancer are:
Urothelial Carcinoma – most common bladder cancer which starts in inner layer. Also called transitional cell carcinoma. If the cancer stays within the inner layer, it is called non-invasive. For cancers extending into the lamina propria or muscularis, it will be termed as invasive, and harder to treat. Transitional cell carcinomas are divided into 2 classifications:
1. Papillary Carcinoma – wart-like tumor that grow toward the middle of the bladder.
2. Nonpapillary carcinoma – or flat carcinoma because of the shape, and often more invasive.
Adenocarcinoma – Usually the result of extended inflammation and irritation
Squamous cell carcinoma – Result of stones in the bladder
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