Bladder Cancer Survival Rate

What is bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer develops in the bladder, a muscular organ in the pelvis responsible for the storage of urine before it is excreted from the body [1]. The cancer typically starts in the cells lining the inside of the bladder (urothelial cells) and can spread to the surrounding tissue if left untreated.

The ICD-10 code for bladder cancer is C67.9 and is categorized as a malignant neoplasm. The bladder cancer ICD-10 is an international classification system for bladder cancer in the ICD-10 diagnosis codes list.

In this article, we will share information about bladder cancer survival rate and prognosis, in addition to providing relevant information about specific types of bladder cancer, diagnosis and staging, and treatment options to help you understand the various factors that influence survival rate.

What are the types of bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer accounts for almost 4.2% of all cancers in men and women [2]. However, each patient is unique in the type of bladder cancer they have. Generally, doctors differentiate bladder cancer into four main types [3]:

  1. Urothelial bladder cancer (transitional cell carcinoma): As the most common type of bladder cancer, urothelial cancer accounts for approximately 90% of all cases [4]. It develops in the cells that line the inside of the bladder and can spread to nearby organs and tissues if left untreated.
  2. Squamous cell bladder cancer: Squamous cell bladder cancer is a rare bladder cancer type that develops in the flat cells that line the bladder. Squamous cell bladder cancer tends to be aggressive and can grow and spread quickly.
  3. Adenocarcinoma: Adenocarcinomas are rare neoplasms that develops in the glandular cells that produce mucus in the bladder. Adenocarcinoma tends to be more aggressive than urothelial bladder cancer and is more likely to spread to other body parts (carcinomatosis).
  4. Sarcomas: Sarcomas refer to a rare type of cancer developing in the bladder’s muscle tissue. They tend to be aggressive and can grow and spread quickly. Sarcomas account for less than 1% of all bladder cancer cases [5].

What are the signs and symptoms of bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer can cause several signs and symptoms, and each patient can experience different types and extent of symptoms. These signs and symptoms vary depending on the stage and location of cancer. Some common signs and symptoms of bladder cancer include [6]:

  • Blood in urine
  • Pain when urinating
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Lower back pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Unexpected or unexplainable weight loss

It's important to note that other conditions, such as a urinary tract infection or kidney stones, can also cause these symptoms. However, if you experience any of these symptoms, you must see a doctor for an evaluation. Early detection and treatment of bladder cancer can improve the chances of successful treatment and recovery.

Bladder cancer diagnosis and staging

How is bladder cancer diagnosed?

Bladder cancer diagnosis typically involves a combination of the following medical diagnostic tests [7]:

  • Medical history and physical examination: The doctor asks about your medical history and symptoms and performs a physical examination, including a pelvic exam for women.
  • Imaging tests: Imaging tests, such as ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, and PET scan, can help determine the size, location, and spread of the cancer [8].
  • Urine tests: Urine tests, such as urine cytology, can detect cancer cells in the urine, while urine cultures can detect any infection [9].
  • Biopsy: A biopsy is a definitive way to diagnose bladder cancer. A small tissue sample is taken from the bladder and examined under a microscope for cancer cells during a biopsy.

Bladder cancer staging

Bladder cancer is usually staged using the TNM system [10]:

  • T stage: Describes the size and extent of the primary tumor within the bladder.
  • N stage: Describes whether cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • M stage: Describes whether cancer has spread to distant sites in the body.

Based on these factors, bladder cancer can be classified into several stages [11]:

  • Stage 0: The cancer is limited to the innermost lining of the bladder (substages 0a and 0is)
  • Stage 1: The cancer has spread into the connective tissue layer of the bladder.
  • Stage 2: The cancer has invaded the muscle layer of the bladder.
  • Stage 3: The cancer spreads beyond the bladder to nearby tissues and organs (stage III, substages IIIa and IIIb).
  • Stage 4: The cancer spreads to distant sites in the body, such as the liver, lungs, or bones (stage IV, substages IVa and IVb)

Is bladder cancer hereditary?

Bladder cancer is not typically considered hereditary, but certain genetic factors may increase the risk of developing bladder cancer. In general, most cases of bladder cancer are believed to be caused by a combination of environmental and lifestyle factors, such as smoking, exposure to certain chemicals and toxins, and chronic bladder infections.

However, some inherited genetic mutations, such as mutations in the genes that cause Lynch syndrome or von Hippel-Lindau disease, can increase the risk of developing bladder cancer. These genetic mutations are relatively rare and account for a small percentage of bladder cancer cases [12].

In addition, some studies have suggested that a family history of bladder cancer may increase the risk of developing the disease. However, the exact nature of the genetic link is unclear. People with a family history of bladder cancer may be advised to undergo regular screening and reduce their risk, such as quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to certain chemicals and toxins.

Bladder cancer survival rate

The prognosis for bladder cancer usually considers two separate metrics: survival rate and quality of life (QOL). Doctors and researchers typically define median survival rate in terms of the five-year survival rate, which indicates the percentage of patients alive five years after their diagnosis.

The survival rate for bladder cancer is highly dependent on the stage of the disease, including tumor size and extent of metastasis, as well as on the patient's underlying health status. In general, bladder cancers caught at earlier stages (stage 0/in situ, stage 1) have a better outlook.

If the cancer is a malignant neoplasm cancer (stage 4 cancer), treatment is more difficult, but in any case, it is important to maintain hope. It is important to understand that survival statistics represent averages - they should not be taken as prescriptive determinations of your future outcome.

What is the survival rate for bladder cancer?

As we previously mentioned, the five-year relative cancer survival probability for bladder cancer can vary depending on the stage and progression of the disease. According to data collected by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program, bladder cancer has an overall mean five-year cancer survival rate of around 77.1%. This means that about 77 patients out of hundred will survive the first five years after diagnosis [13].

The survival rates can also vary depending on the type of bladder cancer. Urothelial carcinoma, the most common type of bladder cancer, generally has a better prognosis than other bladder cancer types, such as squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma, and has better long term survival rates.

It's important to remember that survival rates are just estimates, and each person's experience with bladder cancer is unique. Factors such as the individual's age, overall health, and response to treatment can all affect their prognosis. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with bladder cancer, it's important to work closely with a healthcare team to develop a personalized treatment plan and to seek emotional and social support throughout the treatment process.

Survival rate of bladder cancer in women vs. Survival rate of bladder cancer in men

There are over 82,290 new cases a year of bladder cancer, with a lifetime risk of 2.3% of men and women being diagnosed with bladder cancer at some point. However, bladder cancer predominantly affects men, with over 62,420 new cases being presented in men, making it one of the top ten cancers in men. On the other hand, bladder cancer affects around 19,870 women out of the total number of cases [15].

Similarly, almost 12,160 cancer deaths out of 16,710 from bladder cancer occur in men. The chance that men will develop bladder cancer sometime in their lifetime is one in 28, while it is 1 in 91 for women.

However, studies have found that the five-year survival rate of bladder cancer is worse in women. Women have a 73.1% overall chance of survival, while men have a 79.5% chance of survival.

Bladder cancer survival rate based on age.

Bladder cancer can occur in men and women after the age of 20. However, the cancer is predominant in people aged 65-74 (over 31.7% of new cases). However, people aged over 84 have the highest death percentages (32.1%), while people aged 20-34 have the lowest death percentage (0.1%). The median age of bladder cancer death is 79 [13].

Bladder cancer survival rate based on race/ethnicity

Bladder cancer occurs predominantly in non-Hispanic white men and women (38.5 and 9.5 per 100,000 persons, respectively). Moreover, the death rate per 100,000 persons is highest in non-Hispanic white males (7.9) and non-Hispanic black females (2.3) [13].

Bladder Cancer Treatment Options

The treatment options for bladder cancer depend on the stage and grade of the cancer and the patient's overall health and personal preferences.


Surgery is the most common treatment for bladder cancer, and it involves removing the cancerous cells from the bladder. For early-stage bladder cancer (stage 0, Stage I), transurethral resection of the bladder tumor (TURBT) may be sufficient. TURBT involves removing the tumor through a cystoscope inserted into the bladder through the urethra [16]. For more advanced cases, a partial or radical cystectomy may be necessary. A partial cystectomy removes only a part of the bladder, while a radical cystectomy removes the entire bladder [17] [18]. In some cases, nearby lymph nodes and other organs may also need to be removed.


Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses immune cells to treat cancer. In the case of bladder cancer, the immune system is stimulated to attack cancer cells in the bladder. The most common type of immunotherapy for bladder cancer is bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) therapy. BCG is a bacterium that is similar to the one that causes tuberculosis. It is injected directly into the bladder to stimulate the immune system and destroy cancer cells [19].


Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. In the case of bladder cancer, chemotherapy is usually given intravenously (through a vein). It is used to shrink the tumor before surgery or kill cancer cells that have spread to other body parts [20].

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. In the case of bladder cancer, radiation therapy may be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy involves targeting specific molecules involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. In the case of bladder cancer, targeted therapy may be used in combination with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Clinical Trials for Bladder Cancer

If a cancer patient is unresponsive to any of the cancer treatment methods mentioned above or does not want to go through such treatments, they can join bladder cancer clinical trials.

Clinical trials are research studies designed to test new treatments or therapies for a particular disease. They are essential for advancing medical knowledge and improving patient outcomes. Clinical trials for bladder cancer are typically divided into four phases.

If patients wish to join a clinical trial, they can visit Power to find the treatment approach that might benefit them. Alternatively, you can visit Leal Health, an AI-powered platform built to inform you of potential clinical trials in your area.



Bladder cancer is a serious disease, but the survival rates can be quite good with early detection and appropriate treatment. It's important for individuals to be aware of the symptoms of bladder cancer, such as blood in the urine, and to seek medical attention promptly if they experience any of these symptoms.

It's important to work closely with your healthcare team to develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific situation. With the right treatment and support, many people can successfully manage bladder cancer and live full, active lives.