Which histologic finding is characteristic of carcinoma in situ (CIS) bladder cancer?

Updated: Feb 23, 2021
  • Author: Kara N Babaian, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Bradley Fields Schwartz, DO, FACS  more...
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The typical visual appearance of CIS is that of a flat carcinoma extending along the surface of the bladder. This is in contrast to a papillary tumor, which extends on a stalk into the lumen of the bladder. CIS, by definition, does not invade through the basement membrane into the lamina propria. When it does, the cancer is considered to behave as an aggressive transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) and is managed accordingly.

The histologic pattern of CIS is characterized by bizarre, abnormal cells in the epithelial layer. The cells appear to be those of high-grade cancer; thus, they are readily detected in cytology specimens.

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