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Invasive bladder cancer staging

Invasive bladder cancer means the cancer has spread into or through the muscle layer of the bladder. 

It is sometimes called muscle invasive bladder cancer.

The stages of invasive bladder cancer

Your doctor diagnoses invasive bladder cancer by looking at how far cancer tumours have grown into the bladder. This is called the T stage (T stands for tumour). There are three T stages of invasive bladder cancer:

  • the cancer has grown into the muscle layer of the bladder (T2)
  • the cancer has grown through the muscle layer (T3)
  • the cancer has grown outside the bladder OR into the prostate, uterus or vagina, OR into the wall of the pelvis (the area between the hip bones) or tummy (abdomen) (T4)

Your doctor also looks at:

  • whether the cancer has spread to any lymph nodes (this is called the N stage)
  • whether or not it has spread (metastasised) to other parts of the body (distant metastasis) like the bones, lungs or liver (this is called the M stage)

Invasive bladder cancer can spread to one nearby lymph node. This would give it the stages of N0 or N1, and M0. 

Diagram showing invasive bladder cancer
Diagram showing stage N1 bladder cancer

Locally advanced bladder cancer

If your cancer has grown through the bladder wall or has spread to lymph nodes but no further, it is called locally advanced bladder cancer.


The stage of your cancer helps your doctor to decide which treatment you need. Treatment also depends on:

  • your type of cancer (the type of cells the cancer started in)
  • where the cancer is
  • other health conditions

Treatment may include:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy
  • radiotherapy with chemotherapy (chemoradiotherapy)

Information and help

Dangoor sponsorship

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.