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It can be helpful to understand the various types of bladder cancer since not all bladder cancers are the same, nor do they require the same treatment plans. Even two bladder cancers of the same type and stage will have their own subtleties and may react differently to treatments as a result.

Identifying different bladder cancers

Types of bladder cancer are usually named based on where or how they originate, as detailed below.

Urothelial carcinoma

This type of bladder cancer is also sometimes called transitional cell carcinoma (TCC). Urothelial carcinoma, or TCC, accounts for the vast majority of bladder cancers, and occurs when a malignant tumor forms in the inside lining of the bladder, among the urothelial cells. Urothelial cells also line other spots along the urinary tract outside of the bladder in which tumors may occur, including part of the kidney, the ureters and the urethra.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is the result of flat, scale-like cells (squamous cells) developing in the bladder lining as a result of irritation and swelling. These cells look like those found on the surface of the skin and can become cancerous over time. Squamous cell carcinoma of the bladder is typically an invasive cancer.


This type of cancer starts in the muscle cells of the bladder, as opposed to the lining. Bladder sarcomas are very rare, accounting for less than 1 percent of bladder cancers in the United States.


Adenocarcinoma is another rare form of bladder cancer that is typically invasive. Adenocarcinoma cancer cells are quite similar to the gland-forming cells of colon cancers.

Small cell carcinoma

Small cell carcinomas of the bladder start in neuroendocrine cells and grow rapidly. Treatment is sometimes similar to that of small cell carcinoma of the lung.

In addition to being classified by type, these cancers might further be described by their growth patterns, with terms such as "noninvasive," "non-muscle invasive" or "muscle invasive." Noninvasive cancers are sometimes called "superficial" because they tend to grow only on the surface of the tissue. Non-muscle invasive cancers tend to grow a bit deeper, while muscle invasive cancers grow into the deeper muscle tissue.

Treatment options for bladder cancer at Moffitt

At Moffitt Cancer Center, the multispecialty team in our Genitourinary Oncology Program will work together to diagnose your cancer and develop the best possible individualized treatment plan, always focused on preserving a positive quality of life. We are the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center based in Florida, and one of just 51 across the country. Focused, individualized attention from leading experts in the research and treatment of all types of bladder cancer – that’s the kind of assurance you need to put your mind at ease.

You don’t need a referral to contact Moffitt Cancer Center, so call us at 1-888-663-3488, or fill out a new patient registration form online to begin exploring the ways in which we can partner with you to return you to health.