Bladder Cancer: Survival Rates and Prognosis

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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Experts estimate about 77,000 Americans will develop bladder cancer each year. Fortunately, about half of new cases show up in very early, highly treatable stages. This is encouraging because cancer stage plays an important role in prognosis, or outlook, and survival. Cancer experts analyze several factors in order to present bladder cancer survival rates, which helps doctors offer a prognosis. Some people want to know this information, while others prefer not to see it. The choice is up to you.

Estimating Survival Rates

Five-year survival rates are a common way to talk about cancer prognosis and survival. The rate tells you what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still living five years after diagnosis. For example, a five-year survival rate of 75% means 75 out of 100 people with that type and stage of cancer are still living after five years. You may also see 10-year and 15-year survival rates for bladder cancer.

Experts arrive at these numbers by looking at a large number of people with the disease. But each person is unique. Many factors specific to you and your cancer can influence the way it progresses and responds to treatment. As a result, these numbers can’t tell you how long you will live. Instead, they give you a general idea of the likelihood of successful treatment. Keep in mind, many people will live much longer than five years or will die from other causes within five years.

In addition, experts use data from people diagnosed and treated at least five years ago to determine five-year survival rates. With treatments becoming ever more effective in the fight against cancer, your outlook could be better than the estimates.

Survival Rates for Bladder Cancer

The overall five-year survival rate for all stages of bladder cancer is 77%. However, cancer stage affects prognosis. In general, the earlier or lower the stage, the better the prognosis. Higher stages tend to have a poorer outlook because the cancer is more difficult to treat.

Five-year survival rates for bladder cancer by stage are as follows:

  • Stage 0: when the tumor is only in the lining of the bladder: 98%
  • Stage I: when the tumor has grown into the layer underneath the lining: 88%
  • Stage II: when the tumor has invaded deep layers of muscle but remains confined to the bladder: 63%
  • Stage III: when the cancer has grown through the bladder wall into the reproductive organs: 46%
  • Stage IV: when the cancer has spread into the abdominal wall, lymph nodes, or distant body sites: 15%

The early symptoms of bladder cancer are noticeable, including blood in the urine and problems urinating. This may be the reason many people get an early diagnosis and have successful treatment. Always talk with your doctor to understand your specific situation and outlook.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Mar 14
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