Survival Rates for Bladder Cancer

What is the five year survival rate for bladder cancer?

A five-year survival rate is the percentage of people in a study or treatment group who are alive five years after they were diagnosed with or started treatment for a disease such as bladder cancer. Their disease may or may not have recurred during that time.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) periodically reports on the five-year survival rate for bladder cancer.  The most recently period studied was from 2010 to 2016 and that rate was 77%. This means that from the time of diagnosis, 77 out of 100 people diagnosed with bladder cancer were alive in five years.  From 1987 – 1989 (the prior period reported by ACS), the five-year survival rate was 79% and from 1975 – 1977, it was 72%. The survival rates are not the same for everyone, however. 

What impacts the bladder cancer survival rate?

Survival rates depend on many factors, including the type and stage of bladder cancer that is diagnosed. According to the ACS, the five-year survival rate of people with bladder cancer that has not spread beyond the inner layer of the bladder wall is 96%. This is called non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC).  More than half of people are diagnosed at this stage.

If a tumor is invasive but has not yet spread outside the bladder, the five-year survival rate is 69%. Approximately 33% of bladders cancers are diagnosed at this stage. If the cancer extends through the bladder to the surrounding tissue or has spread to nearby lymph nodes or organs, the five-year survival rate is 37%. If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, the five-year survival rate is 6%. About 4% of people are diagnosed at this stage.

It is important to remember that statistics about the five-year survival rates for people with bladder cancer are estimates only and come from annual data based on the number of people with this cancer.  A number of new and promising bladder cancer treatments that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the last five years might not be reflected in a five-year survival rate statistic.

Just like no single treatment is appropriate for all bladder cancer patients, there is not one statistic that applies to everyone either.  Talk with your doctor about your own individual situation to gain the best understanding you can.

When researchers present the results of their clinical trials, they often use survival curves to show the benefit of one treatment over another. During a recent Understanding Advanced/Metastatic Bladder Cancer webinar, Dr. Alicia Morgans, MD, MPH, of Dana Farber Cancer Institute has a simple explanation of those charts that you might see on a website or read in a medical journal or article.

Click below to view a video explaining survival curves

Looking for support?

Our Survivor 2 Survivor (S2S) program connects newly diagnosed bladder cancer patients and caregivers with survivors and co-survivors who have gone through similar experiences.  This program matches callers with trained volunteers who offer a sympathetic ear and share their own experiences as well as insight about bladder cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.

Click here to learn more about the Survivor to Survivor program.

Want to learn more?

We offer our free handbook all about bladder cancer called “Bladder Cancer Basics.”

BCAN’s updated Bladder Cancer Basics handbooks for patients and caregivers are available, free of charge. These electronic and print publications offer a variety of information about the disease including the types of tests used to diagnose bladder cancer, what it means to “stage” and “grade” the disease, an overview of the types of treatments prescribed, including recently approved immunotherapies, as well as resources for the proactive patient. The caregiver guide offers information about the unique challenges faced by bladder cancer caregivers.