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a bladder half way full

6 Facts To Know About Bladder Cancer

Several members of the community shared that they knew nothing about bladder cancer until after they were diagnosed. We found that this is a common experience among people living with bladder cancer, as well their friends and family members, so we wanted to share six lesser known facts about bladder cancer.

1. It’s one of the most common cancers

Bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the US, and fourth most common in men.1 Despite this, there were no new treatments for bladder cancer approved in over thirty years until 2016, and funding for bladder cancer research was actually cut by 7% between 2002 and 2005 while funding for other cancers increased during this period.2,3 Raising awareness for bladder cancer is extremely important to acquire more funding and conduct research in order to improve diagnosis methods, increase clinical trial and treatment options, and reduce the burden of bladder cancer in the US.

2. Blood in the urine is the most common symptom

The number one symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. In our Bladder Cancer In America 2017 survey, we found that 85% of respondents experienced blood in their urine, also known as hematuria, which prompted them to seek out a diagnosis. Anyone who finds blood in their urine should see a doctor, but many people put it off because they might not think that something as serious as cancer could be causing the symptom.

3. Anyone can develop bladder cancer

While bladder cancer is more common in men, women can develop bladder cancer, too! Some women have reported being diagnosed at a later stage or misdiagnosed due to a perception that only men get bladder cancer. In our Bladder Cancer In America 2017 survey, 28% of female patient respondents reported being misdiagnosed before their bladder cancer diagnosis. Both men and women should be aware of common bladder cancer symptoms and raise concerns with their doctors if they have experience these symptoms.

4. Urologists treat bladder cancer in men and women

Urologists are usually the specialists that diagnose and treat bladder cancer, and both men AND women can see a urologist. Their focus is the urinary tract which includes kidneys, the ureters, the urethra, and the bladder. Symptoms related to any of these organs should definitely be checked out by a urologist!

5. There is no routine screening

There is no routine screening recommended, so most people do not undergo any tests to detect bladder cancer unless they experience symptoms. Some risk factors have been identified that increase a person’s chance of developing bladder cancer, so some doctors might recommend bladder cancer tests for individuals who have been exposed to those risks factors. Smoking and exposure to harmful chemicals, including secondhand smoke, are the largest risk factors for bladder cancer.

6. There is a high recurrence rate

Bladder cancer has one of the highest recurrence rates among other common cancers, which means it is very likely to come back even after treatment. Due to this, some people might battle cancer for many years, and it becomes a chronic condition. Even when treatment is successful and the cancer is removed, patients usually have follow-up appointments and tests for five to even ten more years to ensure that the cancer hasn’t returned. This risk creates a lot of anxiety for those living with bladder cancer and their loved ones. Some survivors have reported a fear that any ache and pain could be the cancer returning. Bladder cancer can have a long-lasting physical and emotional impact.

  1. Bladder Cancer: Statistics. ASCO. Reviewed October 2017. Accessed online April 2018.
  2. Messing EM. Why should we increase public awareness of bladder cancer, and how can we do it? Nature Clinical Practice Urology. March 2008. doi:10.1038/ncpuro1061.
  3. Davarpanah NN, Yuno A, Trepel JB, Apolo AB. Immunotherapy: a new treatment paradigm in bladder cancer. Current Opinion in Oncology. 2017;29(3):184-195. doi:10.1097/CCO.0000000000000366.


  • Brandy78
    2 years ago

    I wished that people knew that sometimes it’s not just a UTI. And you need to sometimes be your own advocate with your doctor or urgent care provider. Stand up for yourself, ask questions. Also I wish that women knew that urgency and incontinence isn’t always just a normal thing that happens to us after having babies. Yes it happens but if it’s interrupting your life and activities, it maybe something to talk to your doctor about. I’m one of those who knew nothing until my diagnosis. And maybe I could have done something sooner of I would have stood up for my own health. Information is definitely key! Thanks for posting!!

  • Alina Ahsan moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi @brandy78 this is such a good point. I think many times the signs and symptoms of bladder cancer can be dismissed as “normal” for women when they’re anything but! Thank you for this important reminder about standing up for your own health- it can’t be said enough!
    -Alina, Team

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