Bladder cancer is the 4th most common cancer among men in the US and 9th overall, accounting for just under 5% of all new cancer cases. Bladder Cancer Awareness Month is a time for those affected by the bladder cancer to join together in an effort to increase awareness of the disease and fundraise for bladder cancer research and care. It’s also a time for patients to share their stories, educating and inspiring others affected by the disease.
Early detection of the disease saves lives and is an important theme that runs throughout Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. The disease is treatable, especially if detected in its early stages. The five-year survival rate for individuals with bladder cancer is 77% when compared to the population, however this jumps up to 96% if the tumour has not spread beyond the lining of the bladder wall. As it stands, around half of cases are diagnosed at this stage.
Bladder Cancer Awareness Month encourages us all to recognise and act on symptoms.
How to Get Involved in Bladder Cancer Awareness Month
In 2020, the spread of COVID-19 has led to the cancellation of many traditional Bladder Cancer Awareness Month events, however this doesn’t mean you can’t participate. Bladder cancer is still a very real threat, affecting tens of thousands each year.
Here are some ways you can get involved:
- Educate yourself
- Explore and share useful online articles and resources (see our list of handy links below).
- Tune into an educational webinar, or watch one on-demand. 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
- Encourage awareness of symptoms and early detection across your network.
- Follow key organisations like BCAN and the World Bladder Cancer Patient Coalition on social media (see our list below) and join the conversation, sharing useful content using key hashtags like #BladderCancerAwarenessMonth and #BladderCancerAware.
- Donate to bladder cancer research and care.
Increasing Awareness of the Disease
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.
How Does Bladder Cancer Develop?
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 tumour known as a carcinoma in situ (or CIS). CIS tumours are a particular concern as they’re more likely to spread, penetrating the muscle surrounding the bladder and other parts of the body.
Non-Invasive vs Invasive Bladder Cancer
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 spreads to the muscle layer it is called invasive.
Bladder Cancer Stages and Grades
Bladder cancer stages and grades are used to help classify the severity of the disease.
Stage: describes the size and position of a tumour, 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 "tumour" and describes the degree to which the tumour 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: tumours 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 tumours look similar to healthy tissue but with different cell groupings, while those in high grade tumours are visibly different in appearance and are more likely to recur, grow and spread.
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 and other factors like monthly periods in women, sexual activity, trauma, 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’re notice one or more of these symptoms and are concerned about bladder cancer, it’s best to consult your Doctor as soon as possible.
Bladder Cancer Detection
If detected at an early stage, bladder cancer can often be treated successfully. If your Doctor thinks you might have bladder cancer, he or she may use one or more of the following tests:
- Physical examination and medical history: A risk assessment based on current symptoms, medical history and risk factors.
- Cystoscopy: A long, thin, flexible, lighted tube called a cystoscope is inserted through the urethra and used to view the inner wall of your bladder. A tissue sample (biopsy) may be taken during the procedure and looked at under a microscope.
- Ultrasound: A scanning test that uses a microphone to bounce sound waves off body structures to produce an image. Checks for masses and blockages in the tubes connecting your kidneys and bladder.
- CT scan: Uses x-rays to create cross-sectional images of your bladder, urinary tract, abdomen and pelvis.
- Urine cytology: Cytology attempts to diagnose bladder cancer by counting the cancer cells in a urine sample, shed from the lining of the bladder. However, because cytology relies on people to manually count cells under a microscope, the results can sometimes be unreliable.
- Genomic urine test: Cutting edge tests like Cxbladder work at the molecular level, measuring the presence of biomarker genes to quickly and accurately detect or rule out the presence of bladder cancer.
Cxbladder is a Genomic Urine Test that Detects or Rules Out Bladder Cancer
Cxbladder is a genomic urine test that quickly and accurately detects or rules out bladder cancer in patients presenting with blood in urine (or hematuria) and those being monitored for recurrence. The test works at a molecular level, measuring five biomarker genes to detect the presence or absence of bladder cancer, and has been validated in a number of multicenter clinical trials published in leading medical journals.
Cxbladder is discrete, quick, non-invasive and painless, typically giving you meaningful results within seven working days. It comes as a suite of three test options, each optimised for a different point in the patient journey.
Triage: Incorporates known bladder cancer risk factors to help rapidly rule out the disease.
Detect: Designed to work alongside other tests to improve overall detection accuracy.
Monitor: Optimised for bladder cancer surveillance, reducing the reliance on further invasive tests.
Learn More About Cxbladder
A Non-Invasive Surveillance Alternative
Bladder cancer is particularly dangerous disease in that even early stage tumours have a high likelihood of returning. As a consequence, a program of surveillance is essential for all patients following treatment.
Generally, doctors recommend a cystoscopy to examine the inside of your bladder and urethra every three to six months for several years after bladder cancer treatment. If several years of surveillance have gone by, and no cancer recurrence was detected, you may only need a cystoscopy once a year. Depending on your situation, your doctor might recommend additional testing at regular intervals as well.
While cystoscopies are reliable and play an essential role in evaluating patients for recurrence, the procedure is uncomfortable, invasive and not always necessary. Cxbladder Monitor provides a non-invasive and accurate testing alternative that can reduce the frequency of cystoscopies required in some patients.
Cxbladder Home Testing
To simplify and streamline the bladder cancer testing process, we are now offering an In-Home Testing Program for patients in the US. Participating patients have the option of submitting their urine sample in the comfort of their own home without the need to physically visit their Urologist.
If you’re a patient monitoring for bladder cancer recurrence, or worried about blood in urine or any other symptom of bladder cancer, we recommend you speak to your Doctor and see if Cxbladder In-Home Sampling is right for you.
The Cxbladder sampling process is simple and only takes a few minutes, with courier pick-up coordinated in collaboration with our Customer Service team. A special preservative in the Cxbladder test kit means that your urine sample can be transported safely back to our certified laboratories for analysis. Refrigeration is not needed.
How do I request a Cxbladder Patient In-Home Test?
Cxbladder In-Home Tests must be ordered by your Urologist. Speak to your Doctor or contact us directly for more information.
Phone: 1-855-CXBLADR (1-855-292-5237)
Contact Us to Learn More
Support for Telemedicine and our In-Home Sampling Program
Stephanie Chisolm, Director of Education & Research at the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN); Sia Daneshmand, MD (Keck School of Medicine, USC); Professor Sandy Srinivas (Stanford Medicine); and Alec Koo, MD, discuss the Cxbladder Home Sampling Program during a recent patient webinar “What you should know about COVID-19 and Bladder Cancer”. Discussion of Cxbladder begins at 28:12 (part 1), 46:50 (part 2)
Take Charge of Your Health
Cxbladder gives you peace of mind and will help your Doctor make informed treatment decisions. Speak to your Doctor or Urologist to learn more about Cxbladder and which test might be right for you. You can also contact our Customer Care Team directly.
Cxbladder website resources:
- Worried About Blood in Urine?
- Bladder Cancer Facts
- Bladder Cancer Types
- Symptoms & Risk Factors
- Bladder Cancer in Men vs Women
- Urine Test Detection
- The Cxbladder Blog - for a range of educational resources
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
- Blærekreftforeningen – Norway
- Blærekreft Norge – Norway