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The bladder

Men and women discussing bladder cancer

This page tells you about the bladder. There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

The bladder

The bladder is the organ that stores urine. Urine is made in the kidneys and passes to the bladder down two tubes called the ureters. The bladder is a stretchy bag made of muscle tissue. It can store about 500mls (or 3 cups) of urine.

The layers of the bladder

The bladder is made up of several layers. How your specialist treats your bladder cancer will depend on how far into these layers the cancer has grown. Bladder cancer starts in the innermost lining.

 

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The bladder and urinary system

The bladder is part of the body system that filters waste products out of the blood and makes urine. This is called the urinary system (or urinary tract). It is made up of the

  • Kidneys
  • Ureters
  • Bladder
  • Urethra

Diagram of the male urinary system

In men, the prostate gland surrounds the lower part of the bladder. 

 

Diagram showing the female urinary system

Normally, there are two kidneys, one on each side of the body. The kidneys filter your blood and make urine. The urine is carried to the bladder by two tubes called the ureters. The bladder is like a balloon which stores urine. It is a stretchy bag, made of muscle tissue, and can hold about 500mls (about 3 cups) of urine.

When we empty our bladder, the urine passes down a tube called the urethra and out of the body. The urethra in men passes through the prostate gland and down the penis. In women, the urethra is much shorter and passes from the bladder down to an opening just in front of the vagina.

The urine collecting tubes within the kidney, the ureters, the bladder, and the urethra are all lined with transitional cells. We have a separate page about transitional cell cancers of the kidney and ureters.

 

The layers of the bladder

The bladder is made up of a number of layers. Bladder cancer starts in the innermost lining. How your specialist treats your bladder cancer will depend on how far the cancer has grown into these layers. This tells your doctor the stage of your bladder cancer.

The inside of the bladder has a special type of lining that stretches as the bladder fills up. This lining is called transitional epithelium. It stops the urine being absorbed back into the body. Below this first layer is a thin layer of connective tissue called the lamina propria. Underneath this layer is muscle tissue called the muscularis propria. Around the muscle tissue is a layer of fatty connective tissue, which separates the bladder from other body organs such as the prostate and kidneys.

Diagram showing the layers of the bladder

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Updated: 25 September 2013