Bladder cancer is the 6th most common cancer among men globally, and the 10th most common overall. Bladder Cancer Awareness Month is a time for those affected by the disease to stand together in an effort to increase awareness of the disease and fundraise for bladder cancer research, treatment and care. It’s also a time for patients to share their stories, educating and inspiring others affected by the disease.
For those that have lost loved ones to bladder cancer, May is a time to remember and to honour the memory of those that have passed.
- How to Get Involved in Bladder Cancer Awareness Month
- Increasing Awareness of the Disease
- How Does Bladder Cancer Develop
- Non-Invasive vs Invasive Bladder Cancer
- Bladder Cancer Stages and Grades
- Bladder Cancer Signs & Symptoms
- Bladder Cancer Detection
- Online Resources & Key Organisations
The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) lead in the organisation of Bladder Cancer Awareness Month fundraising events and educational initiatives across the US. This includes their annual Walk to End Cancer, a national event bringing thousands together across the country to raise money for bladder cancer research and care. To complement events throughout the month, BCAM provide patients, caregivers and the medical community with a library of print and online resources designed to help navigate the bladder cancer journey.
Globally, the World Bladder Cancer Patient Coalition (WBCPC) play an important role guiding activity in May. This year their campaign theme is "Feeling unsure? Get checked".
It recognises that a delay in acting on symptoms is a key barrier to the timely diagnosis of bladder cancer. Both symptoms and the way in which people respond to them can vary, especially as some of the symptoms are not immediately seen as linked to bladder cancer. The discovery of blood in the urine, painful urination, and irregular urination can all be mistaken for other conditions, causing bladder cancer to be overlooked.
This year's campaign aims to bring attention to the misrepresentation of symptoms and encourage people to re-evaluate their symptoms, as what they thought they saw may actually be something different.
Here are some ways you can get involved in Bladder Cancer Awareness Month throughout May.
- Download, personalise, and share the WBCPC marketing toolkit
- The toolkit contains a range of useful assets for use across social media including templates, messaging, graphics and infographics. You can download it here.
- Take part in an event
- BCAN have been organising and hosting Walks to End Bladder for over a decade. Join thousands of participants across the country for the 2023 Walk to End Bladder Cancer. Find out more and get involved.
- Educate yourself and others
- Explore and share useful articles and resources (see our list of handy links below).
- Watch an expert video. You can check out the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network's (BCAN's) library here. Their YouTube channel is another great resource.
- Share your story
- Share your bladder cancer story. Engage with others who are sharing theirs.
- Join an online bladder cancer community, e.g. BCAN Inspire platform, Smart Patients or The American Bladder Cancer Society’s Forum.
- Help raise awareness
- Get involved. In keeping with the theme of the month, help spread the word by sharing a campaign message and/ or a video or infographic using a campaign hashtag including #GetChecked and #BladderCancerMonth23. Search the hashtags to see what others have been sharing.
- Follow key organisations like the World Bladder Cancer Patient Coalition, BCAN, and Beat Bladder Cancer Australia on social media (see our list below) and join the conversation.
- Donate to bladder cancer research and care.
- Donate to the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network here.
Education is an essential element of Bladder Cancer Awareness Month, both in relation to self-learning and in spreading awareness of the disease amongst friends and family members.
Bladder cancer develops when cells in the bladder begin to grow abnormally. It often starts in the lining of the bladder then grows deeper, penetrating the surrounding tissue and muscle. In advanced cases, the cancer may spread (or metastasize) to other parts of the body.
There are several different types of bladder cancer, the most common of which is Urothelial Carcinoma (UC). UC accounts for over 90% of all bladder cancers and begins in the bladder lining as either a papillary cancer growing out into the center of the bladder, or a flat tumor known as a carcinoma in situ (or CIS). CIS tumors are a particular concern as they’re more likely to spread, penetrating the muscle surrounding the bladder and other parts of the body.
The bladder wall has several layers from inside to out (see the diagram below):
- Urothelium: the inner lining of the bladder
- Lamina propria: a thin layer of connective tissue beneath the urothelium
- Muscularis propria: a layer of muscle surrounding the bladder
- Fatty connective tissue
Most bladder cancers start in the urothelium. If the disease affects only the urothelium, it is called superficial. Bladder cancers that spread into deeper layers are more difficult to treat. If bladder cancer penetrates to the layer of surrounding muscle it is called muscle invasive.
Bladder cancer stages and grades are used to help classify the severity of the disease.
Stage: describes the size and position of a tumor, including whether it has spread from where it first started.
The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM system is the most widely used staging system for bladder cancer. It relies on three critical factors:
- T: The letter "T" stands for "tumor" and describes the degree to which the tumor has grown through the wall of your bladder and into neighbouring tissue and muscles.
- N: The letter "N" stands for "nodes" and notes if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are groups of immune system cells about the size of beans. When cancer starts to spread, it frequently spreads to the lymph nodes nearest the bladder first.
- M: The letter "M" stands for "metastasized," which means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs or other lymph nodes farther from the bladder.
The American Cancer Society provides a detailed breakdown of the TNM system here. Letters or numbers after T, N and M offer more detail related to the progression of the cancer.
Grade: tumors can be classified further based on the way cancer cells look when viewed through a microscope, i.e. the degree to which they deviate in their appearance from normal cells. Cells within low grade tumors look similar to healthy tissue but with different cell groupings, while those in high grade tumors are visibly different in appearance and are more likely to recur, grow and spread.
Early detection is an important theme that runs throughout Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. The disease is treatable, especially when detected in its early stages, so it's important recognise and act on the symptoms.
Blood in your urine or hematuria is the most common symptom of bladder cancer and should be taken seriously. About 4 in every 5 people with bladder cancer will experience hematuria as the first sign. If you do see blood, it’s recommended you speak with your Doctor as soon as possible. Just bear in mind certain foods like beetroot, blueberries and rhubarb can cause your urine to appear red, as can certain medications. Blood can also be caused by other factors including monthly periods in women, sexual activity, kidney trauma, bladder or kidney stones, UTIs, vigorous exercise and viral illness.
Other bladder cancer symptoms to watch for include:
- An increase in frequency or difficulty in urinating
- An increase in the feeling of urgency to urinate
- Pain when urinating
- Abdominal pain
- Lower back pain
- Loss of appetite and/or weight loss
If you notice one or more of these symptoms and are concerned about bladder cancer, it’s best to consult your Doctor as soon as possible.
When detected at an early stage, bladder cancer can often be treated successfully.
|Genomic urine tests, such as Cxbladder
If You're Concerned About Bladder Cancer, Ask Your Doctor About Cxbladder
Cxbladder is a genomic urine test that can quickly and accurately detect or rules out bladder cancer. The test combines clinical risk factor markers with genetic information, measuring five biomarker genes to detect the presence or absence of bladder cancer.
When should you use Cxbladder?
- When you’ve seen blood in your urine
- If tests reveal you have blood in your urine
- When you’re being monitored for recurrent bladder cancer
Cxbladder can make a meaningful difference to your care.
- Cxbladder is a non-invasive urine test, that comes with the option of in-home sampling.
- The test helps to provide certainty, and confirm a diagnosis, when other tests and procedures are inconclusive.
- Most patients experiencing blood in urine (hematuria) do not have cancer but it's important to speak with your doctor and confirm the cause as soon as possible. Cxbladder helps clinical teams quickly and accurately rule out bladder cancer, reducing the need for further tests and invasive procedures.
- Cxbladder can reduce the frequency of surveillance cystoscopy in suitable patients.
With performance proven in over 20 peer-reviewed studies, Cxbladder is trusted by over 4,400 US urologists in over 100,000 patients. In New Zealand, Cxbladder is available to 75% of the population via public healthcare.
Learn more about Cxbladder Contact us for more information
Cxbladder website resources:
- Worried About Blood in Urine?
- Bladder Cancer Detection
- A Detailed Look at Symptoms
- Bladder Cancer Causes & Risk Factors
- Stages of Bladder Cancer
- Bladder Cancer Types
- Bladder Cancer Survival: The Importance of Early Detection
- The Importance of Surveillance in Those Being Monitored for Recurrence
- Can Recurrent UTI Symptoms Be a Sign of Cancer?
- Browse our Cxbladder Blog - for a wide range of educational articles, written for patients and caregivers
Bladder cancer information across leading online portals:
Useful bladder cancer statistics:
- Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN)
- American Bladder Cancer Society
- World Bladder Cancer Patient Coalition
- Beat Bladder Cancer Australia
- Bladder Cancer Awareness Australia
- Fight Bladder Cancer UK
- Action Bladder Cancer UK
- Bladder Cancer Canada
- Les Zuros - France
- Blærekreft Norge – Norway
- Sylvester RJ, van der Meijden A, Oosterlinck W, et al. Predicting Recurrence and Progression in Individual Patients with Stage Ta T1 Bladder Cancer Using EORTC Risk Tables: A Combined Analysis of 2,596 Patients from Seven EORTC Trials. European Urology. 2006; 49(3):466-477.