Types of bladder cancer

Urothelial bladder cancer

This is the most common type of bladder cancer. It is also called transitional cell carcinoma or TCC. It starts in cells in the bladder lining (urothelial cells or transitional cells). This cancer may be non-invasive or invasive.

In non-invasive bladder cancer, the cancer cells are only in the inner lining of the bladder. They have not spread (invaded) into the muscle layer. Non-invasive bladder cancer can appear in different forms:

  • A papillary tumour is usually a mushroom-like growth on the bladder lining.
  • Carcinoma in situ (CIS) appears as flat, red patches on the bladder lining. Sometimes there is a papillary cancer as well as CIS.

Invasive or advanced bladder cancer is when the cancer has spread into the muscle, through the muscle or to other parts of the body.

Less common types of bladder cancer

Less common types of bladder cancer include squamous cell cancer and adenocarcinoma. They start from different types of cells in the bladder lining and are usually invasive.

You can call our support line on 0808 808 00 00 for more information about these types of bladder cancer.

Back to Understanding

What is cancer?

Cancer starts when cells in our bodies become abnormal. The abnormal cells grow and divide and can form a tumour.

Cancer and cell types

Cancers are grouped into types. Types of cancer often behave and respond to treatments in different ways.

About the bladder

The bladder collects and stores urine. It is in the lower part of the tummy.

Why do cancers come back?

Sometimes, tiny cancer cells are left behind after cancer treatment. These can divide to form a new tumour.