Stage 2 bladder cancer is an advanced bladder cancer stage. It is a muscle-invasive form of bladder cancer, which means the tumor has spread into the muscle layer of the bladder lining.

Bladder cancer begins primarily in the bladder but can spread to surrounding organs and tissues. A cancer staging system can help a doctor diagnose cancer, determine its progression, and map out the best treatment.

This article overviews stage 2 bladder cancer, including symptoms, treatments, and more.

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At stage 2 bladder cancer, cancer cells have spread beyond the original tumor site but are within the local region.

As such, the tumor has grown through the connective tissues lining the bladder, invading the inner layer of the bladder muscle.

The cancer has not affected surrounding lymph nodes or distant sites.

Learn more about bladder cancer.

Blood in urine, or hematuria, is the most common symptom of bladder cancer. It may appear as streaks of blood in the urine or the urine may appear brown.

A person with advanced bladder cancer may experience other symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Other symptoms can include:

Some less common symptoms of bladder cancer include:

  • sudden urge to urinate
  • frequent urination
  • painful sensation while passing urine

Learn more about the symptoms of bladder cancer.

Medical experts do not know exactly what causes bladder cancer. However, they have identified some factors that can increase a person’s risk of the condition.

Possible risk factors for bladder cancer include:

  • smoking cigarettes, which causes about half of all bladder cancers
  • workplace exposure to certain chemicals, such as aromatic amines
  • exposure to arsenic in drinking water
  • not drinking enough fluids
  • taking certain medications or supplements, such as pioglitazone and products containing aristolochic acid
  • having chronic bladder conditions, such as urinary infections, kidney stones, and bladder stones
  • personal or family history of bladder cancer
  • age, as bladder cancer is more common in people over age 55 years

It is best for a person to contact their doctor if they have concerns about the risk factors of bladder cancer.

Learn more about the causes of bladder cancer.

If a doctor suspects bladder cancer, they may start by performing a physical examination, taking a medical history, and ordering various tests.

Testing will likely include urinalysis, or a urine test, to check for:

  • blood
  • infection
  • abnormal cells

Other tests can help a doctor confirm the diagnosis and stage the cancer.


This procedure helps a doctor view the inside of the urethra and bladder.

A cystoscope is a thin tube with a lens and lighting system that provides a complete view of the bladder.

The doctor may administer anesthesia to make the procedure painless before inserting the cystoscope into the urethra.

Tissue biopsy

A tissue biopsy involves a healthcare professional removing a small sample of bladder tissue and checking for signs of cancer under a microscope.

Imaging tests

Imaging tests can help a doctor stage the cancer. These tests can include:

  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • X-ray
  • bone scan
  • PET scan

A person’s doctor can provide more information about the tests they order and what they involve.

Learn more about how doctors diagnose bladder cancer.

To treat stage 2 bladder cancer, a doctor may recommend the following:

  • radical cystectomy, which is a surgery to remove the bladder and surrounding tissue and organs
  • chemotherapy
  • radiation therapy

If a person undergoes a radical cystectomy, a surgeon will create a new way for urine to leave the body in a process called urinary diversion. This might involve urostomy, where the surgeon creates a stoma so urine can collect in a bag or pouch on the outside of the body.

If a person cannot have surgery, they may receive a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Learn more about bladder cancer treatments.

Treatments for stage 2 bladder cancer can cause complications. Examples include:

  • complications related to urinary diversion
  • ileus, or problems with the bowels after surgery
  • problems with kidney function
  • risks of infection after surgery
  • sexual problems due to erectile dysfunction or narrowing of the vagina
  • nutritional deficiency

Doctors and surgeons will take steps to reduce these risks and provide treatments for any complications that do occur.

Without effective treatment, stage 2 bladder cancer may progress to stage 3 and stage 4. It is important to contact a doctor as soon as there are any concerns about bladder cancer to help reduce this risk.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the 5-year relative survival rate for stage 2 bladder cancer is 71%.

A person with stage 2 bladder cancer may experience complications due to surgery. Their doctor and surgeon can advise on ways they can reduce the risk of complications.

Doctors can also help the individual find ways of managing urinary diversion after radical cystectomy.

People with stage 2 bladder cancer may have a good outlook with early diagnosis and treatment.

A relative survival rate helps give an idea of how long a person with a particular condition will live after receiving a diagnosis compared with people without the condition.

For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate is 70%, that means a person with the condition is 70% as likely to live for 5 years as someone without the condition.

These figures are estimates. A person can consult a healthcare professional about how their condition may affect them.

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Here are some frequently asked questions about stage 2 bladder cancer.

Is stage 2 bladder cancer curable?

Whether bladder cancer is curable can depend on various factors, such as the type of bladder cancer and the person’s overall health.

According to the NCI, muscle-invasive stages of bladder cancer are harder to cure than earlier stages, but doctors can recommend a treatment plan to achieve the best possible outcome.

What is the life expectancy for stage 2 bladder cancer?

People with stage 2 bladder cancer have a 5-year relative survival rate of 71%.

Life expectancy is different for each individual. A person’s doctor can provide more accurate information about their outlook based on their unique circumstances.

Stage 2 bladder cancer is a muscle-invasive form of bladder cancer, which means the tumor has spread into the muscle layer of the bladder lining.

The main symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. As the condition advances, a person may experience symptoms such as bone or pelvic pain, edema, and unexplained weight loss.

A doctor may order urine tests and imaging tests to diagnose and stage bladder cancer. Treatment of stage 2 bladder cancer may involve surgery and a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Contacting a doctor as soon as there are concerns about bladder cancer can help a person begin treatment as early as possible.