Bladder cancer is a disease defined by abnormal cell growth, usually on the lining of the bladder but sometimes also in surrounding tissue. Older people and smokers are at higher risk for this disease. The earlier the illness is diagnosed, the more effective the treatments are.
Visit the Web site of the National Cancer Institute and download the booklet on bladder cancer (see "Resources" below). This booklet has information on the 4 different stages of bladder cancer. You may also wish to visit the Web site of the American Cancer Society to learn about cancer stages in general (see "Resources" below).
Understand that bladder cancer usually begins in the inner lining of the bladder. Cancer that has not spread beyond this lining is usually designated stage 0 or stage I cancer. Cancer that appears only on the surface of the lining is designated stage 0, while a diagnosis of stage I cancer means that the malignant cells are located deeper in the lining.
Learn that a diagnosis of stage II bladder cancer means that the cancer has spread to the bladder muscle. A stage III diagnosis indicates that the cancer has gone beyond the bladder itself and into tissue in the area around the bladder. The term 'stage IV cancer' refers to a cancer that has spread beyond the original site of the cancer to lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
Understand that the various stages of bladder cancer frequently require substantially different treatments. This is why it is important to ask your doctor for more information if there is anything you do not understand about bladder cancer stages.
Follow up on an initial diagnosis by getting treatment and making appropriate lifestyle changes. These changes may include quitting smoking, reducing exposure to chemicals, drinking more liquids, eating more fruit and vegetables or adopting other measures your doctor recommends.