Suffering from Bladder Cancer?
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Bladder Cancer Life Expectancy

The life expectancy for someone diagnosed with bladder cancer is good, especially in the long term. According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 78 percent of overall patients who develop bladder cancer are still alive after five years and later. There are an estimated 564,000 people living with the disease across the nation.

Bladder cancer attacks the urinal bladder but is often caught early. This means the disease can be treated quickly and aggressively. While bladder cancer is known to reoccur, the disease can be treated again. There are several ways to improve a bladder cancer life expectancy:

  • Quit smoking -- Smoking increases the chance of bladder cancer and recurrent bladder cancer.
  • Avoid workplace chemical exposure -- Chemicals found on the job can increase the risk.
  • Immediately treat bladder infections -- Repeated bladder infections, also called urinary tract infections, can bring on bladder cancer. Treat them quickly.

Early Detection Improves Chances of Survival

Like other types of cancer, bladder cancer is measured by stages. The earlier the stage, the greater the chances are for a full recovery, called remission:

Stage 0 and I

Commonly called in situ, this means that the cancer is confined to only a single layer of cells. Researchers have found that 51 percent of patients are diagnosed with bladder cancer in situ, and the five-year survival for bladder cancer in situ is 96.4 percent.

Stage II

This is localized bladder cancer with it confined to the primary site. Of patients, 35 percent are diagnosed at this local stage. The five-year survival rate for these patients is 70.2 percent.

Stage III

In this type of bladder cancer, the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes. In this, 7 percent of patients are diagnosed in stage III, and the five-year survival rate is 33 percent.

Stage IV

For this stage, the cancer has spread throughout the body. Of the patients diagnosed with bladder cancer, 4 percent are diagnosed in stage IV, and the five-year survival rate is 4 percent.

The early stages of bladder cancer are more easily treated. In Stages 0 through 2, doctors prefer standard treatments:

Bladder Cancer Procedures

  • Transurethral resection (TUR) -- Also known as a transurethral resection of the bladder tumor (TURBT), this is the most common bladder-cancer treatment. For this, an instrument is passed into the bladder through the urethra and cancerous tissue is removed.
  • Bacille-Calmette Guerin (BCG) -- A form of intravesical immunotherapy, this uses the tuberculosis bacterium to kill cancer cells.
  • Cystectomy -- This is the surgical removal of all or part of the bladder.
  • Other Factors That Affect Survival Rates

Doctors have found that there are a number of additional factors that can have an impact on a patient’s survival rate:

  • Age -- Younger patients are able to handle treatment better.
  • General health -- Patients who have good overall health can generally fight the disease more effectively.
  • Smoking -- Patients who are long-time nonsmokers can better fight bladder cancer. The carcinogens in cigarettes are known to cause bladder cancer.
  • Gender -- Researchers are still trying to determine why elderly men are more apt to be diagnosed with bladder cancer.

Alternative Treatment Options

While many patients depend on conventional treatments -- surgery, chemotherapy and radiation -- to treat bladder cancer, there are many other options available. A growing number of patients are turning to new, innovative bladder cancer treatments:

  • Photodynamic therapy (PDT) -- Used for early stage bladder cancer, patients are injected with a light-sensitive drug that clings to cancerous cells. A laser targets the cells.
  • Targeted therapies -- Targeted drugs being used today include lapatinib (Tykerb), sunitinib (Sutent) and erlotinib (Tarceva). Some of these drugs focus directly on cancerous cells, while others target blood vessels.
  • Gene therapies -- Researchers are using modified viruses to make changes to the genes inside cancer cells.


National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. Bladder Cancer Treatment Stages of Bladder Cancer. Retrieved from

National Cancer Institute. SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Bladder Cancer. Retrieved from

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