Bladder cancer goes through different stages. Today, we will explain them based on three letters: TNM. The letters TNM will help us distinguish between the 3 types of stages of bladder cancer in a simplified way. Each of them presents their own particularities, risks and treatments. Knowing what stage a person with bladder cancer is in will help us take certain precautions and perform specific tests. In addition, during the detection of cancer, there will always be constant monitoring to see how the disease progresses.
The presence of blood in the urine is usually the first symptom of urine cancer. However, this can also occur in ailments like kidney stones or a urine infection, which are completely benign diseases. There is no exact cause for the development of this type of cancer. Sometimes, it is associated with smoking, other times, it’s related with the abuse of analgesics or exposure to certain toxins. Bladder cancer usually occurs in the elderly. Also, men are at a higher risk of suffering it than women.
The Letter T
The T refers to the word tumor. This indicates that we are in the first stage of bladder cancer. At this point the tumor has grown in the wall of the bladder. It can be seen easily and what doctors will check is whether it has spread to nearby tissues. The manner in which bladder cancer develops in this first stage is as follows:
The carcinoma may have developed either in the hollow of the vagina or in the internal part of the vaginal lining. In this second case, the tumor can progress in several ways.
Bladder cancer continues to develop and passes from the lining of the vagina to the muscle.
Once the tumor is installed in the muscle, it will tend to spread to adipose tissue.
At this point, it can keep moving until it affects the prostate, the uterus and the vagina.
Later, the cancer can reach the pelvic wall or the abdominal wall.
If bladder cancer is detected early and appropriate treatment is performed, it does not necessarily continue progressing in this gradual manner. For these reasons, any pain in the area, difficulty urinating or hematuria, should alert you to see the doctor as soon as possible.
The Letter N
The letter N refers to the nodules, where bladder cancers have spread to the lymph nodes. When the tumor reaches them, they usually become inflamed and more noticeable, for example, those on the groin. What doctors usually do is perform a biopsy to find out if they are treating cancer.
Normally, cancers tend to spread naturally to the lymph nodes. What can happen when bladder cancer reaches this stage is the following:
The tumor has affected a ganglion near the bladder.
The carcinoma spread to two or more nearby lymph nodes.
The cancer has affected the lymph nodes near the common arteries.
The Letter M
The last letter that identifies the stages of bladder cancer refers to the word metastasis. This means that bladder cancer has not only spread to the lymph nodes, but to other organs or more distant areas of the body. When metastasis occurs, we are in a very advanced stage of cancer. Due to its dispersion, sometimes trying to control it is very difficult. During the M stage, the following characteristics take place:
The tumor has spread to a group of lymph nodes that are not near the vagina.
The carcinoma has already affected one or more organs such as the lungs and will continue spreading through the body.
As we can see, these three letters help us to identify bladder cancer in a simple and clear way as well as the current situation of the tumor. Knowing this will allow medical professionals to determine the type of treatment in which the patient must submit to.