What is Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer?

When tumors grow into or through the muscle wall of the bladder, it is known “muscle invasive bladder cancer,” or MIBC. Bladder cancer is most often found in the tissue (called urothelial or transitional cells) that line the inside of the bladder and approximately 25-30% of bladder tumors grow into or through the muscle wall of the bladder. When bladder tumors spread into the bladder muscle, they are more likely to spread further and be more life threatening. You can learn more from this webinar with urologist Dr. Tracey Krupski of the University of Virginia Health System.

This is an illustration of muscle invasive bladder cancer, when the tumor grows beyond the lining of the bladder.

Watch our video, What is Bladder Cancer?

How is muscle invasive bladder cancer treated?

Once the tumor has invaded the muscle layer of the bladder, it has a greater chance of spreading further beyond the bladder. The objective is to remove the cancer as completely as possible. There are different treatments including chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy.


For patients who are healthy enough, chemotherapy may be provided in advance of surgery to help remove any cancer cells that may have gone beyond the bladder itself. This is known as neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Radical cystectomy

Chemotherapy is often followed by bladder removal surgery, called a radical cystectomy. The urologist will create a urinary diversion to have a new way for the urine made in the kidneys to leave the body.

Bladder preservation therapy

For some, surgery to remove the bladder is not an option and they may benefit from tri-modality or bladder preservation therapy using chemotherapy, surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible and radiation to the area where the tumor was located.

Ask your doctor about which option to treat muscle invasive bladder cancer is recommended. You can also learn more about the treatment options for all stages of bladder cancer by clicking on the button below.

Treatment comparison tool:

Click on the button below to compare the different types of treatments for muscle invasive bladder cancer.

Learn more about MIBC:

Podcasts about MIBC:

These “Bladder Cancer Matters” podcasts offer additional information about muscle invasive bladder cancer:

Webinars about MIBC:

BCAN webinars are online, recorded conversations with medical experts. We offer several Patient Insight Webinars with about information about muscle invasive bladder cancer, including:

This webinar, “Understanding Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer,” can help you understand what it is and how it is treated.

Additional webinars:

Stories from MIBC patients:

What are the known risk factors for bladder cancer?

While not all of the risk factors for bladder cancer are understood, doctors know that certain behaviors and environmental or occupational exposures can increase the likelihood that cancer will develop. Smoking or exposure to certain chemicals at work or in their environment is another potential cause. Heredity, age, gender and race may also play a role in your risk for bladder cancer. Learn more about the risks factors for bladder cancer here.

How can I learn more?

Order your free copy of Bladder Cancer Basics, BCAN’s signature handbook to help you understand bladder cancer and how it is diagnosed and treated.

BCAN’s updated Bladder Cancer Basics handbooks for patients and Tips for Caregivers are available, free of charge. These handbooks offer a variety of information about the disease including the types of tests used to diagnose bladder cancer, what it means to “stage” and “grade” the disease, an overview of the types of treatments prescribed, including recently approved immunotherapies, as well as resources for the proactive patient. The caregiver guide offers information about the unique challenges faced by bladder cancer caregivers.

Get Help: Survivor to Survivor

The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network’s (BCAN’s) Survivor to Survivor (S2S) program connects newly diagnosed bladder cancer patients and caregivers with survivors and co-survivors who have gone through similar experiences.

S2S matches bladder cancer patients with trained volunteers who offer a sympathetic ear and share their own experiences as well as insight about their own bladder cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.

Call center for bladder cancer patients and loved ones

A muscle invasive bladder cancer diagnosis can be scary, stressful and even expensive. To speak with an oncology social worker who can talk to your about your feelings about your muscle invasive bladder cancer diagnosis, call during regular business hours (ET) 833-ASK-4BCA (833-275-4222).