A Snapshot of Bladder Cancer
Incidence and Mortality
While urinary bladder cancer incidence rates are much higher in whites than in African Americans, mortality rates are only slightly higher, due in large part to the later stage at diagnosis among African Americans. Incidence and mortality rates for Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and Asians/Pacific Islanders are lower than those for whites and African Americans. Incidence and mortality rates have changed very little for most racial and ethnic groups over the past 20 years, with the exception of African Americans, for whom mortality has been decreasing. Men are about four times more likely than women to be diagnosed with bladder cancer. Since 1998, mortality rates have been stable in men and slowly declining in women.
Smoking is the most important risk factor for bladder cancer. Other risk factors include exposure to chemicals in the workplace (rubber, paint, hairdressing chemicals), taking certain chemotherapy drugs, and arsenic contamination in drinking water. There is no standard or routine screening test for bladder cancer, but two tests, cystoscopy and urine cytology, may be used in patients who have previously had bladder cancer. Standard treatments for bladder cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and biological therapy.
It is estimated that approximately $4.0 billion1 is spent in the United States each year on bladder cancer treatment.
Examples of NCI Activities Relevant to Bladder Cancer
- The Prostate and Urologic Cancer Research Group conducts and supports clinical trials, biomarker discovery, and technology development for the prevention and early detection of prostate and bladder cancers.
- The Mouse Models of Human Cancers Consortium (MMHCC) has developed several murine cancer models, including those relevant to the urinary system, which are available to the research community.
- The phase I/II trial Paclitaxel and Radiation Therapy With or Without Trastuzumab in Treating Patients Who Have Undergone Surgery for Bladder Cancer is studying the side effects and efficacy of a combination of the drug paclitaxel (Taxol) and daily radiation therapy in patients with invasive bladder cancer. Patients whose tumors are HER2 positive also will be treated with the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin).
- Investigators participating in the International Consortium of Bladder Cancer coordinate research activities and pool data across ongoing and completed bladder cancer epidemiology studies.
- Investigators in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) revealed a metabolic shift that was connected to tumor stage and aggressiveness in a common kidney cancer, clear cell renal cell carcinoma. [PubMed Abstract]
- One bladder-cancer-specific Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) is studying the early detection of bladder cancer, new therapeutic strategies, and markers to predict bladder cancer recurrence.
Selected Advances in Bladder Cancer Research
- A genetic variant that is associated with increased bladder tumor expression of prostate stem cell antigen generates a protein that is a potential therapeutic target. Published December 2012. [PubMed Abstract]
- Loss of the SPARC protein promotes bladder cancer growth and metastasis. Published January 2013. [PubMed Abstract]
- Intravesical delivery of a combination of chemotherapy drugs may prevent localized bladder cancer from progressing to metastatic disease. Published February 2013. [PubMed Abstract]
- Former smokers, even those with a moderate history of smoking, have an increased risk of bladder cancer for many years after quitting smoking. Published March 2013. [PubMed Abstract]
- See this PubMed list of selected free full-text journal articles on NCI-supported research relevant to bladder cancer. You can also search PubMed for additional scientific articles or to complete a search tutorial.
Trends in NCI Funding for Bladder Cancer Research
The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) investment2 in bladder cancer research decreased slightly from $24.1 million in fiscal year (FY) 2008 to $23.4 million in FY 2012. In addition to this funding, NCI supported $3.1 million in bladder cancer research in FY 2009 and FY 2010 using funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
Additional Resources for Bladder Cancer
- What You Need To Know About™ Bladder Cancer
Describes possible risks, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment for someone recently diagnosed with bladder cancer.
- Bladder Cancer Home Page
NCI's gateway for information about bladder cancer.
- Bladder Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)
Expert-reviewed information summary about the treatment of bladder cancer.
- Clinical Trials for Bladder Cancer