About bladder cancer

It’s time for change for people with bladder cancer  

Bladder cancer is one of the top 10 most common cancers in the world, with surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy the standard treatment options. Despite scientists tirelessly researching new treatments for the disease, there has been little in the way of new treatments for nearly 30 years.1

Although it is one of the lesser-known types, almost half a million new cases are diagnosed globally each year, of which approximately 165,000 of these cases result in death.2

Time is of the essence

Bladder cancer is characterised by the growth of abnormal tissues in the lining of the organ.3 In some cases it spreads into the surrounding muscles and organs – this is known as metastatic bladder cancer.

As with many cancers, an early diagnosis is likely to improve a patient’s chance of survival. For those people diagnosed with bladder cancer at the metastatic stage, only 5% of patients will be alive after 5 years.4 

About 1 in 10 bladder cancers have already spread to other sites in the body by the time they are diagnosed.5 These statistics show that there is an acute need to raise awareness of the symptoms of bladder cancer in order to encourage earlier diagnosis, referral and treatment. 

Common symptoms of bladder cancer
The most common symptoms of bladder cancer include blood in the urine; abdominal pain; lower back pain; and bladder irritation.
We know that early diagnosis is key, so it is crucial that people are able to recognise the symptoms of bladder cancer in themselves, in order to seek early medical attention from their doctor.
Dr Pablo Perez-Moreno, Group International Medical Director at Roche

For three decades, treatment options available to patients diagnosed with bladder cancer have been very limited, with surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy being the main choices. For those with metastatic bladder cancer, chemotherapy is often the standard treatment. “When you compare this situation with melanoma, for example, which has seen significant treatment advances in recent years, there is a very obvious need for new treatments,” explains Dr Perez-Moreno. “Currently, for patients who are diagnosed with late-stage bladder cancer, or metastatic disease, the goal of treatment is to increase their chance for survival and quality of life.”

The first type of chemotherapy that many patients receive today is a type of cisplatin-based chemotherapy, a treatment used for a number of cancer types. Due to the side effects sadly most patients with metastatic bladder cancer are unsuitable for cisplatin and receive alternative types of chemotherapy. These include carboplatin-based or non-platinum-based chemotherapy, single-agent regimens, or best supportive care. It is estimated that over 50% of people are unable to receive any chemotherapy at all to treat their disease because of age or other medical conditions.6

As treatment options for late-stage bladder cancer have been limited, it is not surprising that survival rates for the disease remain low. Our focus now is to investigate new treatment options for people with advanced bladder cancer.
Dr Perez-Moreno

Cancer immunotherapy represents a potential new treatment option for people with metastatic bladder cancer. 

References

1. Kim J. Immune checkpoint blockade therapy for bladder cancer treatment. Invest and Clin Urol. 2016 [cited 2016 Nov 21];57(Suppl 1): S98-S105.

2. Ferlay J, et al., GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide [document] IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet].Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr/Pages/fact_sheets_population.aspx.

3. National Cancer Institute. Bladder Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version [document on the Internet]. Bethesda, MD; 2016 [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://www.cancer.gov/types/bladder/patient/bladder-treatment-pdq.

4. National Cancer Institute. SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2011 [document on the Internet]. Bethesda, MD; 2011 [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://seer.cancer.gov/archive/csr/1975_2011/results_merged/sect_27_urinary_bladder.pdf.

5. National Cancer Institute. SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Bladder Cancer [document on the Internet]. Bethesda, MD; 2016 [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/urinb.html.

6. Galsky M. et al. The effectiveness of chemotherapy in "real world" patients with metastatic bladder cancer. Poster session presented at: The European Cancer Congress: Reinforcing Multidisciplinarity; 2015 September 28; Vienna, Austria. Available from: http://www.eccocongress.org/Vienna2015/Scientific-Programme/Abstract-search?abstractid=21190