Honing in on Bladder Cancer: Key Facts

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CURE, Genitourinary Cancers Special Issue, Volume 1, Issue 1

CURE gathered some need-to-know facts about bladder cancer, the sixth most common cancer.

Bladder cancer is the sixth most common cancer overall, but it is the third most prevalent form of the disease in men, according to the National Cancer Institute.

• More than 76,000 new cases of the disease will be diagnosed this year, about 75 percent of which will occur in men.

• The average age at diagnosis is 73, and roughly 16,000 patients die each year from the disease. Aging is one of the major risk factors for the disease, though it has also been linked with tobacco use, family history and exposure to chemicals in certain industrial products.

• The most common type of bladder cancer is urothelial carcinoma, which can originate anywhere in the urinary tract, including the kidneys and the ureters that connect them to the bladder.

• Bladder cancer is referred to either as “muscle-invasive,” meaning it has invaded the thick muscle along the walls of the organs, or “non—muscleinvasive.” Muscle-invasive bladder cancer has a high chance of spreading to other organs.

• Prior to the rise of immunotherapy a few years ago, the standard of care in bladder cancer hadn’t changed much and consisted largely of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Chemotherapy is typically given in combinations that include such drugs as gemcitabine/cisplatin or methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin, cisplatin (MVAC), but responses, if seen at all, tend to be brief.

• The five-year survival rate for bladder cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, stage 4, is 15 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.