Bladder cancer is the 10th most common cancer globally, the 4th most common cancer among US men, and the 6th most common in the US 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 honor the memory of those that have passed.
How to Get Involved in Bladder Cancer Awareness Month
Globally, the World Bladder Cancer Patient Coalition (WBCPC) play an important role guiding activity throughout the month. The theme for 2021 - Have you ever heard about bladder cancer? - is all about initiating conversation. The idea is that asking this one question and actively engaging others on the topic of bladder cancer will help millions become #BladderCancerAware.
In the US, the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) lead in the organisation of Bladder Cancer Awareness Month events and educational initiatives. 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.
In 2021, the continued spread of COVID-19 means that many activities are being scheduled as virtual events, including the Walk to End Cancer.
Here are some ways you can get involved in Bladder Cancer Awareness Month throughout May.
- Download, personalise, and share the WBCPC social media 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 a virtual event
- This year the Walk to End Cancer will be run as an interactive fundraising event on 1st May, allowing participants across the country to walk from a place of their choosing. It's a lot of fun and a great way to meet people and raise awareness.
- Later in the month, BCAN's Ask the Experts webinar on the 26th provides bladder cancer patients and caregivers with an opportunity to directly engage with leading doctors in the field.
- 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
- In keeping with the theme of the month, ask the question: Have you ever heard about bladder cancer? Engage others in conversation.
- Encourage awareness of symptoms 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 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.
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 penetrates to the layer of surrounding muscle it is called muscle 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 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’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
When detected at an early stage, bladder cancer can often be treated successfully.
The diagnostic tests and procedures to detect bladder cancer are selected by doctors based on an individual’s age, symptoms, risk factors, and any history of bladder cancer. They may include:
|Genomic urine tests, such as Cxbladder||
If You're Concerned About Bladder Cancer, Ask Your Doctor About Cxbladder
Cxbladder is a non-invasive genomic urine test that quickly and accurately detects 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 provides peace of mind and can make a meaningful difference to your care.
- The test gives you certainty, resolving diagnostic ambiguity and improving overall detection accuracy.
- Most patients experiencing hematuria or who are being monitored for bladder cancer recurrence do not have cancer. Cxbladder enables the accurate rule out of patients who do not have bladder cancer, reducing the need for further invasive tests.
With performance proven in 12 peer-reviewed studies, Cxbladder is trusted by over 1,800 US urologists in over 40,000 patients. The test is covered by Medicare and comes with the option of in-home sampling.
Learn more about Cxbladder Contact us for more information
Cxbladder website resources:
- Worried About Blood in Urine?
- Bladder Cancer Types
- A Detailed Look at Symptoms
- Bladder Cancer Causes & Risk Factors
- Bladder Cancer Survival: The Importance of Early Detection
- Can Recurrent UTI Symptoms Be a Sign of Cancer?
- The Cxbladder Blog - for a wide range of educational articles
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
- 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.