Knowing the Facts about Bladder Cancer to Improve Survival Rates

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Compared to other forms of cancer, bladder cancer is not as commonly discussed. According to some experts, this is an important factor that contributes to low survival rates. The UK Charity Fight Bladder Cancer seeks to raise awareness about the illness and hopes to increase the odds of survival. Andrew Winterbottom, founder and director of the charity, answers important questions about bladder cancer in a Huffington Post UK article.

The most common symptoms, says Winterbottom, include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain while urinating
  • Frequent urination
  • Persistent urinary infections
  • Tiredness
  • Abdominal pain

Blood in the urine is the main sign, although this may not always be obvious. In some cases the blood is only present in trace amounts and can only be detected through testing.

There are several reasons why survival rates for bladder cancer are low in some countries. Even though it is easy to diagnose, it is often detected too late because people do not know the symptoms. Women in particular often experience a delayed diagnosis because of a common assumption that bladder cancer only affects older men.

“Over 5,000 people in this country [UK] lose their lives to this little discussed disease every year. That’s more people than are affected by many well known cancers, including leukaemia, kidney cancer, ovarian cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, cervical cancer and brain tumours.”  said Winterbottom.

The chances of surviving bladder cancer are significantly higher if diagnosis occurs early on. There is an 80 percent survival rate for the first five years if the cancer is detected while still on the lining of the bladder. If it is found in the later stages, where it has spread through the bladder wall to other organs, the rate of survival can be less than 15 percent.

High rates of recurrence can also make bladder cancer problematic, and expensive to treat. Additionally, there is not a substantial amount of funding for research and treatments have not changed much in recent decades.

An estimated 72,570 new cases of bladder cancer were diagnosed and an estimated 15,210 deaths occurred from bladder cancer in the United States in 2013, according to the American Cancer Society. Bladder cancer is the seventh most common cancer in the UK, with more than 10,000 people diagnosed every year.

Bladder cancer has been linked to the type 2 diabetes drug Actos in a number of studies. In fact, there are now thousands of Actos bladder cancer lawsuits filed across the country. There is an MDL currently underway in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana before the Honorable Rebecca F. Doherty, who is overseeing some 2,700 cases. In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that there is a significantly higher risk of bladder cancer after using Actos for one year. The warning came shortly after the drug was suspended in France and Germany.