As with all cancers, a bladder cancer diagnosis can be scary and overwhelming for both patients and their caregivers. Compared to other cancer types, however, patient experience of bladder cancer care is especially poor. Depending on the cancer type and stage, discomfort from procedures and psychological stress can diminish quality of life in terms of fatigue, physical functions, and mental health.
Beyond treatment, side effects such as urinary incontinence, waking during the night to urinate, changes to sexual function, and altered body image, all contribute to psychological stress. Additionally, a bladder cancer diagnosis can affect a person’s quality of life because it requires life-long care such as stoma care, catheterization, or ensuring access to bathrooms.
Large studies using the National Cancer Database (NCDB) report that Black, female, uninsured, or Medicaid patients with any stage of bladder cancer are less likely than other patient populations to receive cancer-directed therapies. The cause of these disparities includes many factors such as referral delays, insurance authorization delays, patient preference, socioeconomic status, and limited access to high-volume treatment centers.
ACCC is providing resources for providers to recognize and address these barriers to guideline-concordant care.
The most common risk factors for bladder cancer include smoking, workplace exposure, use of certain medications or herbal supplements, and the presence of arsenic in the drinking water. Bladder birth defects, urinary tract infections (UTIs), kidney/bladder stones, long-term bladder catheters, and chronic bladder irritation have also been linked to bladder cancer (particularly squamous cell carcinoma.
A mark of a cohesive multidisciplinary cancer care team is the development and utilization of effective patient education practices and resources. Many cancer care teams embrace a patient-centered multidisciplinary care approach. Research continues to affirm its effectiveness.
Through this education project, ACCC is examining the barriers cancer care teams face when engaging patients in treatment and surveillance, including examples to show the impact of disparities in care and the costs attributed to the delay of treatment. Additionally, ACCC is developing operational tools for providers to use for the implementation of changes in their programs and communities, offering real-world examples of best practices in screening and identification of patients with bladder cancer, as well as strategies for delivering quality care to underserved populations.
For more information on this project, please contact the ACCC Provider Education department.
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.
This equity-oriented care guide for patients with bladder cancer identifies roadblocks that patients with bladder cancer may encounter and what actions can be taken to mitigate disparities and unnecessary risks.
This four-part series includes real life examples of programs that are making strides in the multidisciplinary approach to bladder cancer, showcasing the benefits of: