July Is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month

July is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month! Bladder cancer occurs predominantly in elderly men and less frequently in women and younger men. Many bladder cancers are thought to be caused by exposure to cancer-causing agents that pass through the urine and come into contact with the bladder lining. The most important risk factor for bladder cancer is smoking, which increases risk by at least four-fold.
The most common sign of bladder cancer is hematuria or blood in the urine, which will turn the urine rust or red in color.  Other signs of bladder cancer may include pain during urination and frequent urination. Most patients with bladder cancer do not have symptoms other than hematuria. Unfortunately, most bladder cancers are not diagnosed until they have become very large. As a result, research is ongoing in order to develop urine tests that would enable earlier detection of bladder cancer when it is small and more easily treated.
Bladder Cancer Statistics
  • In the United States there were approximately 563,000 men and women alive who had a history of cancer of the urinary bladder — 419,000 men and 144,000 women.
  • It is the 8th most common cancer over all. It is the 4th most common in men and the 10th most common in woman.
  • It is estimated that yearly there will be over 72,000 new cases and over 15,000 deaths.
  • A man has a 1 in 26 and a woman a 1 in 90 chance of getting bladder cancer in their lifetime.
  • Age is a factor in bladder cancer a high percentage of people who have bladder cancer are over 55 however it can occur at any age.
  • Upon Presentation with  Bladder Cancer:
55-60% of patients have low grade non-invasive disease. 40-45% have high grade disease, of which 50% is muscle invasive.
  • The bladder cancer male-to-female ratio is 3:1.
  • As many American woman will die of bladder cancer this year as from cervical cancer.
  • Women often have delayed diagnosis due to bladder cancer being mistaken for common gynecological problems.
  • Usually, when most patients are first diagnosed with bladder cancer, their cancer is confined to the bladder (75%).
  • In 19% of the cases, the cancer has spread to nearby tissues outside the bladder.
  • In 3% it has spread to distant sites.
  • Upon presentation with bladder cancer 55-60% of patients have low-grade non invasive disease.
  • Forty to forty-five percent of patients have high-grade disease, of which 50% is muscle invasive.
  • Whites are more likely to get bladder cancer than blacks but blacks are often diagnosed at a more advanced stage.
  • The recurrence rate for superficial transitional cell cancer of the bladder is high and as many as 70% of patients have at least one recurrence with in five years.
  • Of urothelial tumors, more than 90% are transitional cell carcinomas.
  • Up to 5% of bladder cancers are squamous cell in origin.
  • 1-2% are adenocarcinomas.
  • Rhabdomyosarcomas most commonly occur in children.
  • Nonurothelial primary bladder tumors are extremely rare and may include small cell carcinoma, carcinosarcoma, primary lymphoma, and sarcoma.


1 National Cancer Institute. Bladder and Other Urothelial Cancers (PDQ®): Screening. Health Professional Version. Available at:http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/screening/bladder/HealthProfessional(Accessed May 5, 2008). 2 Pashos CL, Botteman MF, Laskin BL, Redaelli A. Bladder Cancer: Epidemiology, Diagnosis, and Management. Cancer Practice 2002;10:311-322. 3 National Cancer Institute. Bladder Cancer (PDQ®): Treatment. Health Professional Version. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/bladder/HealthProfessional (Accessed February 9, 2007). 4 American Bladder Cancer Society is available at: http://bladdercancersupport.org/bladder-cancer-help/bladder-cancer-facts/statistics
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