Prognosis for Stage IV Bladder Cancer


When it comes to determining how likely it is that your bladder cancer will be cured, a lot depends on the stage to which the cancer has progressed. The farther bladder cancer spreads, the more difficult it becomes to subsequently contain it with medical treatment, forcing the prognosis to shift toward delaying the inevitable. In stage IV bladder cancer, the cancer has spread beyond the original site to other areas of the body.

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer occurs where a tumor develops within the bladder itself. Bladder cancer is generally divided into two types--papillary and non-papillary tumors. Papillary tumors look much like a wart, and grow attached to a stalk, as opposed to non-papillary tumors which are more invasive. Risk factors for bladder cancer include smoking, exposure to hazardous chemicals and chronic bladder infections.

Bladder Cancer Stages

Bladder cancer is categorized depending on how far the cancer has spread. Stage 0 and stage I tumors exist only in the lining of the bladder. Stage II tumors have spread into the muscle tissue of the bladder. Stage III tumors have gone beyond the muscle tissue and into tissue surrounding the bladder. Finally, stage IV tumors have spread to the lymph node system of the body.

Stage IV Bladder Cancer Survival Rate

Bladder cancer is easier to cure if it can be contained. Therefore, survival rates decrease as the cancer increases in scope, with stage IV cancer having the most grim outlook. According to statistics from, once bladder cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate drops to 3percent. This means that you have a 3 percent chance of being alive five years after your diagnosis.

Stage IV Bladder Cancer Life Expectancy

According to the site, your best chances for survival are when the cancer has not yet spread to another organ. Once stage IV bladder cancer begins to infect another area of the body such as the liver or lungs, patients live (on average) anywhere from 12 to 18 months. Even if the cancer has only spread to the lymph nodes and surgery is performed to remove them, there is only a 30 percent survival rate.

Prognosis Considerations

According to the National Cancer Institute, stage IV bladder cancer is considered advanced, so the overall goal of treatment shifts along with the prognosis. As it is highly unlikely that stage IV bladder cancer can be forced into remission, the prognosis shifts from hoping for a cure to merely increasing the patient's quality of life and aiming to slow the spread of the disease, keeping the patient alive for as long as is reasonably possible.

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