Prognosis & Survival Rates

How often can bladder cancer be cured?

According to the National Cancer Institute, treatment can cure bladder cancer in many people.1 However, the likelihood of the cancer being cured depends upon the type of cancer and how far the cancer has spread when it is diagnosed.

Around 90% of people diagnosed with bladder cancer in the United States have urothelial cancer that started in the lining of the bladder. Around three-quarters of those people have non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer, which means that the cancer has not grown into the muscle of the bladder. While it is quite rare for people to die from this type of bladder cancer, it is not uncommon for it to recur and require more treatment.

It can be more difficult to cure bladder cancer that is diagnosed as high-grade. However, it is usually possible to cure high-grade bladder cancer that is non-muscle invasive, which means it has not grown into the muscle of the bladder. People with bladder cancer that has grown into the muscle of the bladder wall (muscle-invasive bladder cancer) can sometimes be cured. Metastatic bladder cancer is much more difficult to cure, but some patients can achieve long term responses to treatment.

What are survival statistics?

Some people who are diagnosed with bladder cancer are interested in learning more about the survival statistics for the disease.1,2 Others prefer not to know about the statistics. If you choose to learn about the statistics, it is important to remember that they are based on averages across huge numbers of people. Statistics cannot predict what will happen to an individual person who has bladder cancer.

Statistics about cancer survival are usually described as the “survival rate” after a certain number of years. Survival rates tell you the likelihood of survival for a person who has had bladder cancer based on survival percentages of other bladder cancer patients.

Again, it is important to remember that survival rates will not tell you how long you will live after you have been diagnosed with bladder cancer. However, these statistics can give you an idea about how likely it is that your treatment will be successful. Also, survival rates are calculated based upon the age a person was when they were first diagnosed with bladder cancer. It does not take into account whether the person developed another type of cancer, or some other type of disease.

Finally, you should bear in mind that treatments for bladder cancer are improving all the time. Statistics about 10-year survival, for example, are based on people who were diagnosed and treated for bladder cancer ten years ago. The treatment options available to those people may not be the same as the treatment options that are available today.

What are the survival rates for bladder cancer?

According to research by the National Cancer Institute, the average 5-year survival rate for anyone who has bladder cancer, of any stage, is around 77%.3 This means that 77 in 100 patients diagnosed with bladder cancer are still alive after five years. After 10 years, the survival rate is around 70% and after 15 years, the survival rate is about 65%. Remember that many people will live longer than that.

Cancer survival rates are also categorized according the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. The stage of cancer generally refers to how far it has progressed, and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. For bladder cancer, the 5-year survival rates by stage are:

  • 5-year survival rate for people with Stage 0 bladder cancer is around 98%
  • 5-year survival rate for people with Stage I bladder cancer is around 88%
  • 5-year survival rate for people with Stage II bladder cancer is around 63%
  • 5-year survival rate for people with Stage III bladder cancer is around 46%
  • 5-year survival rate for people with Stage IV bladder cancer is around 15%

If you would like to learn more about the statistics for bladder cancer survival, consider speaking with your healthcare provider about it. He or she will be able to explain in more detail how the statistics may apply to your particular diagnosis and treatment for bladder cancer.

Written by Anna Nicholson | Last review date: September 2017.
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