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Misdiagnoses on the Path to a Diagnosis

Once bladder cancer is diagnosed, patients and their doctors are actively treating it with a variety of approaches, including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. But the path to get to that diagnosis isn’t always direct.

In our Bladder Cancer In America 2017 survey, 92% of survey respondents said they experienced symptoms that first prompted them to see their doctor, and 64% saw their healthcare professional within four weeks of the onset of those symptoms. While 68% of survey respondents were diagnosed less than two weeks later, 21% of survey participants received a misdiagnosis first.


The most common misdiagnosis (before receiving the ultimate diagnosis of bladder cancer) among our survey respondents was bladder infection, also known as cystitis. Bladder infections do have some similar symptoms to bladder cancer, including:

Other misdiagnoses included urinary tract infection, enlarged prostate or prostate infection, kidney or bladder stone, and kidney infection.

Diagnosis journey varies between men and women

The diagnosis journey is similar for men and women, but from our Bladder Cancer In America 2017 survey, the women respondents reported it took longer to receive a diagnosis: 73% of women were diagnosed within four weeks versus 88% of men. Women survey respondents were also more likely to have received a misdiagnosis first: 28% of women received a misdiagnosis compared to 17% of men.

Being your own health advocate

Fortunately, all those in our survey did receive the proper diagnosis that led to getting proper treatment for bladder cancer. However, the statistics support the idea that each person must be their own health advocate, asking questions and seeking second opinions when needed. While healthcare professionals are highly trained in medicine, each individual is the expert in their own experience and knows their body best.

About our survey

The Bladder Cancer In America 2017 survey was conducted to gather insights from over 200 individuals with bladder cancer and their caregivers. The survey addressed initial symptoms and diagnosis, quality of life and relationships, ongoing symptoms, symptom management and additional health concerns, engagement with healthcare professionals, and treatment usage.

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