How Common is Bladder Cancer?

Cancer is one of the major causes of death and  disease throughout the world. If all types of cancer are combined,it ranks as the second leading cause of death in the United States today behind heart disease. As treatments for heart disease continue to improve, it has been estimated that within the next 5 to 10 years cancer will become the leading cause of death in the United States and other developed countries. Bladder cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in men and the eighth most common in women.

The American Cancer Society estimated that in 2009, there would be about 70,980 new cases of bladder cancer diagnosed in the United States. In 2009, 14,330 deaths were expected from bladder cancer. In spite of the increased incidence of bladder cancer over the years, the rate of people dying from bladder cancer has  decreased over the past 20 years. From 1998 to 2000, the median age at diagnosis was 63 years of age. 90% of patients were 55 years of age and older at the time of diagnosis. The chance of a man developing bladder cancer at any time during his life is about 1 in 27, whereas it is 1 in 84 for a woman.

Thus bladder cancer is 3 times more common in men than in women. The incidence of bladder cancer increases with age in both sexes, meaning that an older individual is more likely to acquire bladder cancer than a younger person. It is twice as common in white American men as it is in African American men and 1.5 times more common in white American women as it is in African American women. Hispanic Americans also have about half the rates of bladder cancer as do white Americans. Bladder cancer is more common in the United States and Great Britain than in Japan or Finland. In most patients (74%), at the time of diagnosis, the cancer is confined to the bladder. Although bladder cancer is more common in white Americans, African Americans tend to have more advanced disease when they first present to the doctor.

This may be because of an underreporting of more  superficial tumors, delays in diagnosis, or a tendency toward more aggressive tumors in this group. As would be expected from the tendency toward more advanced disease, 5-year survival rates are 71% for African American men versus 84% for white men, and 71% for African American women versus 76% for white women.