Bladder cancer is a common type of cancer that often begins in the urothelial cells, also known as transitional cells, lining the inside of the urethra, bladder, ureters, and renal pelvis. In fact, the most common type of bladder cancer is transitional cell cancer (TCC). According to the American Cancer Society, the U.S. saw an estimated 83,730 new cases of bladder cancer (about 64,280 in men and 19,450 in women) in 2021 and the disease was responsible for about 17,200 deaths (an estimated 12,260 in men and 4,940 in women).
In the United States, about half of bladder cancers detected each year are non-invasive and about one in three have spread to deeper cell layers in the bladder wall. In the remaining cases, the cancer most often has spread to tissue near the bladder or lymph nodes outside the bladder. Approximately four percent of newly diagnosed bladder cancer cases found are advanced or metastatic diseases.
Nearly nine out of ten people with bladder cancer are 55 years or older, and the average age at diagnosis is 73. Men are more likely to develop bladder cancer than women, and the disease is more prevalent in Whites than in African Americans or Hispanic Americans. The lifetime chance of developing bladder cancer is 1 in 27 for men and 1 in 89 for women, relevant to existing risk factors.
Having a risk factor does not necessarily mean that a disease will be acquired, but knowing the risk factors for bladder cancer may help lower an individual's chances of getting the disease by lowering risks that can be controlled (e.g., weight, lifestyle). The most common risk factors for bladder cancer include smoking, workplace exposure, use of certain medications or herbal supplements, not drinking enough fluids, and the presence of arsenic in the drinking water. Bladder birth defects, urinary infections (UTIs), kidney/bladder stones, long-term bladder catheters, and chronic bladder irritation have also been linked to bladder cancer (particularly squamous cell carcinoma of the bladder).
ACCC will develop operational tools to help cancer care providers address barriers to quality bladder cancer care for underserved populations and improve multidisciplinary care coordination.
With the addition of checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy to the treatment armamentarium for advanced bladder cancer, the care landscape for urothelial carcinoma is evolving. Keep the entire multidisciplinary care team up-to-date with information and resources from the ACCC education program on Optimizing Outcomes for Urothelial Carcinoma in the Community Setting. Two options for participation: a live, virtual learning workshop or as a CME/CNE-eligible audio-guided web course.
This article explores disparities in bladder cancer, including data collected through a 2021 Bladder Cancer Economic Study by the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC). It offers practical and operational tips for oncology care team members to manage underserved patients with bladder cancer.