The most important factor affecting bladder cancer survival rates centers on early diagnosis. When bladder cancer is discovered before it invades muscle and other tissue, the survival rate of five years or longer can be as high as 94 percent. Bladder cancer survival rates decline with age. The disease is three times more common in men than women, but survival rates for men are greater, even when the cancer is more advanced.
Bladder cancer survival rates are measured by the stage of cancer and how much it has spread. Stage zero bladder cancer, defined as papillary carcinoma or carcinoma in situ, means abnormal cells affect the lining of the bladder, or flat growths appear inside the bladder, respectively. If the disease is discovered at this stage, it is highly treatable, with favorable bladder cancer survival rates.
Stage one denotes cancer cells that have spread to the inside or outside muscular layers of the bladder. The next stage, or stage three, means cancerous cells permeated the tissue of nearby pelvic organs like the prostate, vagina, or uterus. In stage four bladder cancers, the disease is found in the lymph nodes and other organs in the abdomen.
Transitional cell cancer is the most common type of bladder cancer. It represents 90 percent of all bladder cancers discovered, and begins in the lining of the organ. Squamous cell cancer is considered quite invasive because it rapidly invades deep, inner layers of tissue. Adenocarcinomas also spread deeply into the organ, but represent only 2 percent of all bladder cancers. Other very rare types of bladder cancer also exist.
Treatment also affects bladder cancer survival rates, which depends on the stage at diagnosis, type of cancer, the patient’s treatment preference, and age. Surgery might remove all or part of the organ and other areas that show signs of cancer. Chemotherapy can be administered directly into the bladder for early stage cancer, or to the entire abdominal region for more advanced stages. Radiation commonly kills abnormal cells that surgery leaves behind. Immunotherapy and biological therapy use the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells.
Signs of bladder cancer include frequent urination or the inability to pass urine. Some patients report pain when voiding as a symptom of bladder cancer. Blood in the urine is another sign that disease might be present.
Smokers face two to three times the risk of developing bladder cancer, compared to non-smokers. People who work in the chemical industry are also more prone to the disease. Hairdressers, painters, printers, truck drivers, and those who work with leather or rubber face greater risk because of their exposure to certain chemicals.