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What is Non-Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer?

If you or a loved one have a bladder cancer diagnosis, it can be confusing, frightening and maybe even a bit frustrating. Like many, you probably never heard about bladder cancer until your diagnosis. This page is designed to help you learn about a non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) diagnosis.

Roughly 70% of bladder cancer is found in the tissue (called urothelial or transitional cells) that line the inside of the bladder. The tumor has not grown into the thicker muscle wall of the bladder. This is known as non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, sometimes called NMIBC. You can learn more from this webinar with urologist Dr. Amy Luckenbaugh of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Watch our video, What is Bladder Cancer?

What are the known risk factors for bladder cancer?

Many people who are diagnosed with cancer wonder what caused their tumor(s) to develop. 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 is known as a leading cause of bladder cancer, as it introduces toxins into the bladder that can cause changes in the cells that may make tumors grow. Yet many people who never smoke may be diagnosed. For some, 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 is non-muscle invasive bladder cancer treated?

Non-muscle invasive bladder cancer is usually treated by a Transurethral Resection of the Bladder Tumor (TURBT) to remove the tumor. Once the tumor is removed, your doctor may suggest putting medicine in the bladder to reduce the risk of the cancer returning. That is known as intravesical therapy.

You can also learn more about the treatment options for all stages of bladder cancer.

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.

What does carcinoma in situ mean?

Carcinoma in situ (CIS) is a cancerous patch of bladder lining, often referred to as a “flat tumor.” The patch may look almost normal or may look red and inflamed. CIS is a type of non muscle-invasive bladder cancer that is of higher grade and increases the risk of recurrence and progression. At diagnosis, approximately 10% of patients with bladder cancer present with CIS.

Resources for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer patients

These “Bladder Cancer Matters” podcasts offer additional information about NMIBC:

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

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 non-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 non-muscle invasive bladder cancer diagnosis, call during regular business hours (ET) 833-ASK-4BCA (833-275-4222).