May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month and in general the story is a positive one for this disease site. Over half of the patients that present with this cancer have early noninvasive disease which can be managed with single procedures or a series of steps that preserve bladder function and lead to almost 100% 5 year survival. Almost 80,000 Americans are diagnosed with this disease each year and since most are in situ, or localized, the vast majority of these patients are cured of their cancer. For those that have more locally advanced and regionally spread disease, once again less than 25% of the patients overall, treatment with multimodality strategies are available and effective. Although removal of the bladder or cystectomy is the treatment utilized for this more advanced subgroup, a patient has the option for keeping their bladder by using modern radiation and chemotherapy in lieu of surgery. This bladder sparing option requires close coordination with the urologist and medical oncology team to get the best results. Modern studies show equivalent survival to surgery with this bladder sparing approach.
Please encourage any family or friends to seek medical evaluation for any urinary bleeding or change in urinary function.
For more facts and information on bladder cancer from the American Society for Radiation Oncology, of which SERO is an active member, click here.