Greater Boston Urology Blog

25 Facts About Bladder Cancer

May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month, a time to encourage understanding of this disease along with the raising of critical funds for research. It's also a time for patient education and support—and for patients, caregivers, and loved ones to share their stories.

In an effort to increase awareness, we're sharing 25 facts about bladder cancer.

  1. Bladder cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the United States. [Source: Healthline]
  2. Men get bladder cancer 4x more often than women. [Source: American Cancer Society]
  3. But women may be diagnosed when their disease is at a more advanced stage. [Source: Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network]
  4. Bladder cancer occurs mainly in older people. About 9 out of 10 people with this cancer are over the age of 55. The average age at the time of diagnosis is 73. [Source: American Cancer Society]
  5. Each year, over 81,000 people are diagnosed and over 17,000 people lose their lives to bladder cancer. [Source: American Cancer Society]
  6. Of any form of cancer, bladder cancer has the highest chance of returning—between 50-80 percent [Source: Urology Care Foundation]
  7. Given the high recurrence rate, patient support over the long haul is critical. [Source: Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network]
  8. Blood in the urine is the most common clinical sign of bladder cancer, but it is important to note that blood in the urine can have other causes, such as urinary tract infections. This is why it's so important to speak with your doctor. [Source: Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network]
  9. Smoking is the greatest risk factor. People who smoke get bladder cancer twice as often as non-smokers. [Source: Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network]
  10. Whites are more likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer than African Americans or Hispanic Americans. [Source: American Cancer Society]
  11. Asians have the lowest risk of bladder cancer. [Source: Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network]
  12. Firefighters and other first responders are at an elevated risk for bladder cancer because of exposure to carcinogens. As the BCAN website explains, "The exact causes remain unknown, but risk factors for contracting bladder cancer include exposure to carcinogens in the environment. Firefighters, other first responders, and workers in the rubber, chemical and leather industries are at risk, as are hairdressers, machinists, metal workers, painters, textile workers." [Source Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network]
  13. Arsenic in drinking water is another risk factor. [Source: Urology Care Foundation]
  14. While early, research suggests that e-cigarettes ("vaping") "is not entirely risk free when it comes to a patient's bladder cancer risk." Bottom line: There's no such thing as "safe smoking." [Source: Urology Care Foundation]
  15. The five-year survival rates for people with stage 1 and stage 2 bladder cancer are 88% and 63% respectively. Early detection and treatment can save lives! [Source: Healthline]
  16. Unfortunately, at this time, there isn't a recommended screening for bladder cancer, although doctors with patients at very high risk might have the patient undergo a urinalysis to screen for blood in the urine. [Source: Urology Care Foundation]
  17. Diagnostic tests can include but are not limited to the following: urine cytology, urine tumor marker tests, cystoscopy, and imaging tests. [Source: American Cancer Society]
  18. Treatments for bladder cancer can include transurethral resection of a bladder tumor (TURBT), chemotherapy, immunotherapy, bladder removal, intravesical therapy, bladder preservation with combined-modality therapy (CMT), palliative care, and clinical trials. [Source: Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network]
  19. Bladder cancer survivors have an increased risk for certain types of cancers compared to the general population. The most common is lung cancer, which accounts for about 1 out of 4 second cancers in bladder cancer survivors. [Source: American Cancer Society]
  20. Bladder cancer survivors can take steps to lowering their risk of getting a second cancer. The biggest step is smoking cessation (of all kinds!). Not drinking alcohol is also important. The American Cancer Society says, "If you do drink, have no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men." [Source: The American Cancer Society]
  21. Urologists are typically the specialists who diagnose and treat bladder cancer in men and women. [Source: Greater Boston Urology]
  22. The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) was founded in 2005 by Diane and John Quale (John was a bladder cancer patient). [Source: Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network]
  23. The first national Walk for Bladder Cancer took place in 2011 in over 25 communities across the U.S. [Source: Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network]
  24. In 2015, May was designated Bladder Cancer Awareness Month via Senate Resolution. [Source: Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network]
  25. "Not smoking is the best way to prevent any type of bladder cancer." Yes, we're repeating this—deliberately! [Source: Urology Care Foundation]

If you're experiencing bladder symptoms that are concerning you, make an appointment with a urologist from Greater Boston Urology. Let us help!

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