Common Types of Bladder Cancer - Chemotherapy Treatment - Laser Treatment

By Prev Info - January 19, 2023

Common Types of Bladder Cancer - Chemotherapy Treatment - Laser Treatment

Common Types of Bladder Cancer

There are several common types and subtypes of bladder cancer, with each one possessing its own characteristics in regard to cells it starts in, the way it looks and how it spreads. Urothelial carcinomas, squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma account for the majority of all bladder cancers. 

Urothelial Carcinoma (also called Transitional Cell Carcinoma)

Sometimes still known as transitional cell carcinomas, urothelial carcinomas are the most common variety, accounting for between 90 and 97 percent of all diagnosed bladder cancers. These cancers begin in the innermost layer of the bladder, the transitional cells. Transitional cells, also called the urothelial layer of cells, shrink when the bladder is emptied and stretch when the bladder is full.

Urothelial carcinomas can be categorized by invasiveness. If the cancer remains in the transitional cells, it is noninvasive. A cancer spreading to the layer below the transitional cells is invasive, and cancer spreading into deeper layers, such as the muscular or fatty layers, is considered deeply invasive. Urothelial carcinomas are divided into papillary and flat subtypes.

Papillary Urothelial Carcinomas

Papillary urothelial carcinomas, also called papillary tumors, are a subtype of urothelial cancer that project into the bladder's central hollow area. These projections, known as polyps, can be finger-like, flower-shaped or cactus-shaped. The growths protruding into the hollow center of the bladder are considered noninvasive and generally have good treatment outcomes, butsome papillary urothelial carcinomas can be invasive if they grow into deeper bladder tissue layers.

Flat Urothelial Carcinomas

Flat urothelial carcinomas, also known as flat carcinomas, are another subtype of urothelial carcinomas. These carcinomas look like flat lesions on the cell layer closest to the inside of the bladder. Flat carcinomas remain on the lining of the bladder and do not grow into the hollow area of the bladder. Flat carcinomas come in two varieties. The noninvasive variety can also be called carcinoma in situ (does not spread) The invasive variety, also called invasive transitional cell carcinoma, can spread to other layers of cells, even extending into the muscle tissue.

Squamous Cell Carcinomas

Squamous cells are flat thin cells, and they may form after prolonged irritation or infection. When viewed through a microscope, these cells resemble the flat cells of the surface of the skin. Squamous cell carcinomas are almost always invasive, spreading beyond their immediate area.


Adenocarcinomas arise in the glandular cells of the bladder. These cancers account for roughly 1 percent of all bladder cancers diagnosed. Bladder adenocarcinomas are almost always invasive cancers, which means that they are likely to spread out of the immediate layer of cells. These cancer cells have traits in common with the gland-forming cells found in colon cancers.

Rare Bladder Cancers

Though uncommon, other, more rare types should be mentioned. Small-cell carcinomas account for less than 1 percent of all bladder cancers. This cancer type is rare, and it is treated much the same way as small-cell carcinomas of the lung. Cancers starting in the bladder's muscle cells, called sarcomas or soft-tissue cancers, are another rare type of bladder cancer.

Common Types of Bladder Cancer - Chemotherapy Treatment - Laser Treatment

Chemotherapy Treatment for Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is the general term used for several different cancers affecting the balloon-shaped organ used for urine storage. It typically begins in the cells lining the interior of the bladder, then spreads outward. The severity of this outward spread is measured in phases, or stages, of cancer growth. Chemotherapy drug treatment is used to combat bladder cancer from its earliest to its most advanced stages. 

Treating Early Stage Bladder Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, if you are diagnosed with early stage bladder cancer, you may receive a form of localized treatment called intravesical chemotherapy. To begin this procedure, your oncologist (cancer specialist) inserts a catheter through your urethra into your bladder. Once the catheter is in place, he uses it to administer a chemotherapy agent such as doxorubicin (Adriamycin), thiotepa (Thioplex) or mytomicin-C (Mutamycin). You will be asked to retain this medication in your bladder for one to two hours, after which you urinate to purge it from your body. Unlike systemic forms of chemotherapy, intravesical treatment does not typically cause serious side effects. Temporary afte effects of the procedure include bladder inflammation, pain, frequent or urgent urination and minor bleeding. Chemotherapy for early stage bladder cancer is generally used in combination with some form of surgery.

Treating More Advanced Stages

If your bladder cancer is more advanced, you will typically receive chemotherapy to shrink your tumor prior to surgery or in combination with radiation therapy if surgery is not performed. You may also receive chemotherapy treatment after surgery as a further preventive against the return of your cancer. As a rule, chemotherapy in these stages is used as a systemic agent to address cancer cells that appear anywhere in your body. It is usually given intravenously and may involve either a single medication or several medications in combination. 

Drugs used for this purpose include cisplatin, carboplatin, doxorubicin, docetaxel, cyclophosphamide, gemcitabine, methotrexate, ifosfamide, vinblastine and paclitaxel. In many cases, your oncologist uses a specific combination of methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin and cisplatin, known collectively as MVAC. He may also choose to replace this mix with a combination of gemcitabine and cisplatin, which achieves similar effectiveness with a lower level of side effects.

Treating Metastasized Bladder Cancer

If your cancer has spread, or metastasized, to other areas of your body, you may receive systemic chemotherapy as your primary form of treatment. Chemotherapy may also be used in combination with radiation therapy or with surgery designed to improve your quality of life. You may also wish to be treated with experimental forms of chemotherapy in an established clinical trial.

Potential Treatment Side Effects

Unfortunately, general chemotherapy injures several healthy organ systems as it achieves its cancer-fighting effects. Commonly affected areas of the body include your hair, bone marrow, skin, stomach and intestines. Side effects in these areas include heightened risk of infection, easy bruising or bleeding, hair loss, dry skin and skin sores, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. You may also experience significant disruptions of sexual function, including infertility and loss of sexual drive. Consult your oncologist for ways to diminish any side effects you experience.

Laser Treatment for Bladder Cancer

Fighting cancer is about utilizing the most efficient and effective methods at your disposal to eradicate this potentially devastating threat. New methods of treatment are being developed all the time, so staying abreast of cutting-edge developments can help ensure that you stand a fighting chance.

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is cancer that originates in the cells of the bladder, most often affecting the cells lining the organ. While the actual cause of bladder cancer is unknown, risk factors include smoking, chronic bladder infection (through viruses or parasites), or exposure to hazardous chemicals. Bladder cancers can vary widely in progression and development, making early consultation with a physician that much more important.

Bladder Cancer Treatments

Bladder cancer is routinely treated through a variety of methods. These include, but are not limited to, surgery (excision of the tumor or the entire bladder), chemotherapy (injection of poisonous drugs to destroy malignant cells), or immunotherapy (the application of medications that incite the body's immune system to destroy the cancerous cells).

Laser Treatment

According to an article written by Dr. Emmanuel Schenkman on bladder cancer therapy, laser therapy can also be used to counteract tumors in the bladder. Laser therapy is also referred to as Photofrin-Mediated Photodynamic (or PDT) Therapy. It combines the injection of photosensitizers (devices to increase the tumor's susceptibility to laser light) along with subsequent application of laser light to destroy the tissue.


According to a study performed at the Urologic Clinics of North America by U.O. Nseyo, two thirds of the participants had a 50-percent reduction in their cancer recurrence rates after a single treatment of PDT therapy. Aside from its effectiveness at eliminating cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute, PDT has the added effect of not harming healthy tissue in the process.


If you are currently undergoing treatment for bladder cancer, you might want to schedule an appointment with your physician to discuss the viability to using PDT therapy. While PDT therapy is certainly not the optimal treatment method for all types of bladder cancer, it might be able to make the difference in your particular case.





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