We Should Know About Bladder Cancer Before We Are Diagnosed
Last updated: June 2023
About 83,730 people will hear they have bladder cancer this year.1 Why is it the first time we hear about bladder cancer is when we are diagnosed?
I have wondered for a long time why I had never heard of bladder cancer prior to being diagnosed with it myself. Why do we hear about breast cancer and see pink ribbons everywhere during their month? Colon cancer is more in the news with it being easier to discover using at-home tests. Prostate, pancreatic, lung, leukemia - we seem to hear about these cancers all the time but not bladder cancer. I just read a recent article that bladder cancer is now the 6th most diagnosed type of cancer.2 The #1 type, breast cancer, has a 90% 5-year survival rate, yet bladder cancer is only 77%.3,4
Why don't celebrities share this diagnosis?
When a celebrity has a cancer, many times it hits the media and then that is followed up by numerous articles on treatments, survival rates, and how that person is doing. The famous person may make the early show or late-night show rounds and discuss their cancer. But we do not seem to hear about bladder cancer.
I am sure I am showing my age, but did you know that Jack Lemmon, Telly Savalas, Andy Williams, Hubert Humphrey, Dominick Dunne, and Allen Ludden all died from bladder cancer? Who knew? Most recently, it was announced that pro golfer John Daly has bladder cancer. If you look, you may find some follow-up articles about his treatment, but that is about it.
Why do other cancers have someone immediately in the media stating that we need to raise money or do a walk or just get more information out there? Why not bladder cancer?
Is it because it's about bodily functions or age?
I used to think that it was because bladder cancer involves bodily functions, but we certainly see discussions about colons, ovaries, uterus, breasts, etc. So what do you think is the real reason bladder cancer received so little press? It is touted as a cancer that mainly impacts seniors. We know that is not necessarily true as postings on this site will show. The only people who walk for bladder cancer are those who are really aware of someone who has it: patients, survivors, and caregivers. Why can't we have the same attention as breast, prostate, colon, or pancreatic cancer?
We need equal treatment and attention
Bladder cancer needs equal treatment, and we are the only ones who can make that happen. For a disease that is misdiagnosed way too often, I personally think it is detrimental to not have the usual symptoms to look for made more public. For most of us, it seems like we have either had bladder spasms, definite increases in the times we need to urinate, or in many cases - blood in our urine.
The community needs to come together
I feel very strongly that we need to band together and get some media attention for bladder cancer. Too many people are diagnosed at a later stage when treatment options are not as promising and sometimes much more difficult to endure.
I have asked my GP to please ask all patients questions about their urinary habits every time they come into the office. A few questions - how hard can that be? It is up to us - those directly impacted by bladder cancer - to get the word out. I have thought about reaching out to the national media myself; not the big morning shows but some of the others such as "The Doctors" or similar. We must be vigilant with our own journey. We must encourage our medical professionals to ask about the usual symptoms with every patient regardless of age or medical status.
Share your journey
We must share our stories and support each other. We must get the word out that bladder cancer is a cancer that can upend your life like any other cancer. It is up to us to do something about the minimal attention our cancer receives. I am looking forward to hearing everyone's thoughts on how to accomplish this as I know together, we can make a difference.
Has cancer impacted your mood during the holidays?