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Prognosis & Survival Rates for Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer can often be cured, or brought into remission, especially if treated early. However, bladder cancer tends to reappear. Overall, the chances of your cancer being cured depend on your type of cancer and how far it has spread.1

Bladder cancer starts in the lining of the bladder in about 90 percent of people diagnosed with this cancer. Bladder cancer is called low grade or high grade.

  • Low-grade bladder cancer means the cancer has not invaded the muscles around the bladder (non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer). People rarely die from this type of bladder cancer, it often recurs after treatment.
  • High-grade bladder cancer also often recurs and has a higher chance of spreading to other parts of the body. Almost all deaths from bladder cancer result this type so it is treated more aggressively.

Understanding survival statistics

It is important to remember that all cancer survival numbers are based on averages across huge numbers of people. These numbers cannot predict what will happen in your individual case.

Survival rates will not tell you how long you will live after you have been diagnosed with bladder cancer. But, these numbers can give you an idea of how likely your treatment will be successful. Also, survival rates take into account your age at diagnosis but not whether you have other health conditions too.

Remember, treatments for bladder cancer improve every year. Statistics about 10-year survival, for example, are based on people who were diagnosed and treated for bladder cancer 10 years ago. The treatment options available to those people may not be the same as the treatment options that you have today.

What are the survival rates for bladder cancer?

The National Cancer Institute estimates the average 5-year survival rate for anyone who has bladder cancer, of any stage, to be 77 percent. This means that 3 out of 4 people diagnosed with bladder cancer will still alive after 5 years.3

Cancer survival rates are also categorized according to 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:2,3

  • 5-year survival rate for people with bladder cancer in situ (in originating cells only) is around 96 percent
  • 5-year survival rate for people with localized bladder cancer (sometimes called “Stage 1”) is around 70 percent
  • 5-year survival rate for people with bladder cancer that has spread to the regional lymph nodes is 35 percent
  • 5-year survival rate for people with distant or metastasized bladder cancer is 5 percent (sometimes called “Stage 4”)

If you would like to learn more about bladder cancer statistics, consider speaking with someone on your health care team. They will be able to explain more about how these statistics apply to your cancer.

Written by Anna Nicholson and Jessica Johns Pool | Last review date: November 2019.
  1. Bladder Cancer Treatment. National Cancer Institute. Available at https://www.cancer.gov/types/bladder/hp/bladder-treatment-pdq#link/_1. Accessed 11/13/19.
  2. Survival Rates for Bladder Cancer. American Cancer Society. Available at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/bladder-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-rates.html. Accessed 11/13/19.
  3. Cancer of the Urinary Bladder. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, National Cancer Institute. Available at https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/urinb.html. Accessed 11/13/19.