The only top 10 cancer where survival rates are falling

February 25, 2014

Of the top 10 cancers in the UK, bladder cancer is only one where survival rates have been shown to be getting worse. New figures published this month in the Journal of Clinical Urology confirm in a study of cases of bladder cancer in England over a 19 year period (from 1990 until 2009) that survival rates here in the UK are falling and are worse than in than in other European countries with similar incidence rates.

Shockingly, bladder cancer isn't a rare cancer that only affects a few people every year. In fact, bladder cancer is our 7th most common cancer (the 4th most common for men) with over 10,000 people diagnosed with it every year in the UK alone. Over 5,000 people in this country lose their lives to this little discussed disease every year.

That's more people than are affected by many well known cancers, including leukaemia, , , liver cancer, , and . Each year more people die in the UK from bladder cancer than die in road accidents. Yet, it is still a cancer that is hardly ever talked about.

Bladder cancer is generally easily diagnosed by urologists, but unfortunately most people are not aware of the key symptoms, so they don't go and see their GP as quickly as they should. In addition, some of the main symptoms of bladder cancer are also linked with other medical problems, resulting in GPs delaying the referral of patients on to urology specialists. This is a particular problem for women, who experience a greater amount of delayed diagnosis than men. There is also a common misconception that bladder cancer only affects older men which means that GPs often believe that the symptoms are not symptomatic of a cancer and instead diagnose problems such as recurring when they occur in women, younger men and children.

Historically, there has been very little research into the causes and treatment of bladder cancer, with treatment of the disease hardly changing in the last 30 years. Despite being so common, bladder cancer receives just 0.6% of cancer research spend. This is for a cancer that is the most expensive for the NHS to treat and has the highest recurrence rate of any cancer. Simple evidence that the current treatments just aren't working as well as they should.

Very few members of the public will know that smoking is believed to be the main cause of about half of the cases of bladder cancer, or that others cases can stem from exposure to industrial chemicals and dyes. However, for many bladder cancer patients, the medical profession still cannot find a reason why they have succumbed to this disease.

The most common symptom of bladder cancer is blood in your wee. Sometimes this is clearly visible, but in many cases it can only be picked up when tested by your doctor. There are no accepted screening tests for bladder cancer, so it is really important that awareness of all the causes and symptoms are better known. If caught early, the 5 years for bladder cancer can be as high as 80%, but if treatment is delayed this can drop to as low as 15% or less for advanced cases.

This new research paper has also highlighted the need for a greater equality in treatment, regardless of age, gender, socio-economic status and which part of the country you live in. It also calls for improved, more radical treatment for some of the early stage cancers, to prevent them spreading further into the bladder and then into other parts of the body (which is when survival rates suddenly get worse).

The study authors highlight lack of awareness of the causes and symptoms amongst the general public and within primary care as a major problem, resulting in late diagnosis which, in turn, dramatically affects survival rates.

Every day, 28 people are diagnosed and 14 people will die of in the UK alone. Those affected, and their families, are demanding that money needs to be spent to reverse this fall in survival rates and to find new and improved treatments.

Explore further: Classification system for bladder cancer prognosis

Related Stories

Classification system for bladder cancer prognosis

January 29, 2014
Researchers at Lund University have developed a classification system to determine the prognosis for bladder cancer. It is hoped that this will prove useful for future bladder cancer research and drug development.

Radiation therapy to treat uterine cancer linked with increased risk of bladder cancer later in life

December 17, 2013
Radiation therapy used to treat uterine cancer may increase a patient's risk of developing bladder cancer. That is the conclusion of a recent study published in BJU International. The findings indicate the importance of monitoring ...

Research hope for bladder cancer

August 1, 2013
Bladder cancer is a common condition – an estimated 10,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year in the UK. It is the seventh most common cancer in the UK, affecting men more than women.

Patients with mouth and oesophageal cancers take longer to seek help from GP

February 11, 2014
People with cancers of the mouth and oesophagus are waiting longer between first noticing a symptom and going to their GPs compared to patients with other types of cancers, according to research published in the International ...

Study could lead to 'liquid biopsy' tests for bladder cancer

January 22, 2014
Findings from a Loyola University Medical Center study ultimately could lead to tests to screen for and diagnose bladder cancer.

Urine test could help detect aggressive bladder cancer

November 29, 2013
A simple urine test could distinguish between aggressive and less aggressive bladder cancers according to a new Cancer Research UK study published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Recommended for you

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

Novel CRISPR-Cas9 screening enables discovery of new targets to aid cancer immunotherapy

July 19, 2017
A novel screening method developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center—using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice—has ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.