Bladder Cancer Facts

What is Bladder Cancer?

Bladder cancer occurs when abnormal bladder cells grow and divide beyond their usual boundaries. Most often these cells start to grow on the inner layer of the bladder; however, sometimes this growth can expand into the deeper bladder layers, making the cancer increasingly difficult to treat.

While the symptoms of bladder cancer are easily recognized, many are unaware of the threat of bladder cancer, and diagnosis is often delayed. Common bladder cancer symptoms mimic symptoms for urinary tract infections (UTIs), and can include blood in the urine, back and pelvic pain, as well as swelling in legs, weight loss, anemia and bone pain in rectal, anal or pelvic area.

There are five types of bladder cancer, categorized through microscopic cell analysis. They include:

  • Transitional cell (urothenlial) carcinoma –occurs in the cells that line the inside of the bladder and is the most common type of bladder cancer, impacting 95 percent of bladder cancer patients.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma – occurs in squamous cells, which usually appear in your bladder in response to infection and irritation. In the United States, only about one to two percent of bladder cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
  • Adenocarcinoma – occurs in cells that make up mucus-secreting glands in the bladder. Only about one percent of bladder cancers are adenocarcinomas.
  • Small cell carcinoma – occurs in nerve-like cells called neuroendocrine cells. Less than one percent of bladder cancers are small-cell carcinomas.
  • Sarcoma – this type of bladder cancer is very rare and occurs in the muscle cells of the bladder.

Key Statistics on Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S.

  • Nearly 79,000 new cases of bladder cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2017.
  • It is estimated that 16,870 people will die from the disease this year alone.

One in 42 people will be diagnosed with bladder cancer during their lifetime.

  • Bladder cancer is three times more common in men than in women.
  • Though it is more prevalent in men, studies have shown that women are more likely to present advanced tumors and have a worse prognosis than men at almost every stage of the disease.
  • The 5-year survival rate for women is equal to the 10-year survival rate for men.

Bladder cancer has a recurrence rate of 50-80 percent and because it requires life-long surveillance, it is the most expensive cancer to treat on a per patient basis.

  • It is estimated that $4.1 billion is spent to treat bladder cancer each year in the U.S.
  • The National Cancer Institute’s investment in bladder cancer research was $20.3 million in fiscal year (FY) 2013.

For additional bladder cancer statistics resources, click here. 



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