The American Cancer Society's says nearly 71,000 new cases of bladder cancer will be diagnosed in 2009 and more than 14,000 people will lose their lives to the disease. Since bladder cancer is often caught early, the cure rate is relatively high. It’s not uncommon, however, for cancer of the bladder to return.
Who is at Risk?
Men are more likely to develop bladder cancer than women. The ACS says the odds of a man contracting bladder cancer are approximately 1 in 27 while for a woman the chance is 1 in 85.
Older people are also more susceptible to bladder cancer. The ACS says nearly 90 percent of people diagnosed with bladder cancer are older than 55.
People who smoke are at a higher risk of getting bladder cancer as are those with a family history of the disease.
Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
The National Institute of Health says symptoms of bladder cancer include a frequent need to urinate, pain during urination and the appearance of blood in the urine.
You may also experience pain in the lower back.
Stages of Bladder Cancer
The stage of your bladder cancer at the time of diagnosis will impact the chances of making a complete recovery.
In Stage I, the cancer is confined to the inner lining of the bladder. In Stage II, the malignancy has spread into the bladder wall. By the time bladder cancer has entered stage III, the cancer cells have moved through the bladder wall and have invaded surrounding tissue. In the final stage, (stage IV) cancer cells may have entered the lymph nodes as well as other organs such as the lungs, bones or liver.
Treatment for bladder cancer generally includes conventional therapies such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Patients may also undergo biologic therapy or immunotherapy. These treatments work by enhancing your own body’s capacity to fight cancer.
The American Cancer Society says the five-year survival rate for bladder cancer ranges from 98 percent when caught in its earliest stage to 15 percent in the final stage.
These percentages are merely estimates and it’s important to remember that every case is different. Your doctor can talk with you about your individual chances of a cure and your likelihood of survival.
If your cancer returns at some point after treatment it is referred to as recurrent. A recurrence can be in or near the area it started or it may have moved to other organs such as the lungs or bones.
In the case of bladder cancer the prognosis for recurrence depends on the place and size of the cancer and what treatment was used to treat the original cancer.
Because there is a good chance of developing a second bladder cancer, follow-up care is extremely important. You should see your doctor every three to six months during which time a physical exam and tests such as cystoscopy (the use of a scope to examine the bladder), urine studies, X-rays, and blood tests will be performed. Between checkups, former bladder cancer patients should report any health problems right away.