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Bladder Cancer (cont.)

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What is the prognosis for bladder cancer?

The most important factors that impact the prognosis (or the chances of control and cure) of bladder cancer are the stage and grade of the tumor. The lower the stage and grade, the better the outlook. Other factors such as number, size, pattern of recurrence (if any), response to initial treatment like BCG, coexistent carcinoma in situ, and certain genetic mutations also play a role.

For low-risk superficial bladder cancer (Ta, low grade), the chances of recurrence are about 50% in five years after the initial diagnosis. This necessitates regular follow-up, even in these low-risk tumors. However, unlike the more aggressive variants of bladder cancer, the chances of progression (for example, chances of the tumor invading into the deeper layers of the bladder) are minimal. Typically, these tumors, even when they recur, do so in the same stage and grade as the original tumor and do not compromise the life expectancy of the patient.

High-risk superficial tumors are those that are high grade, T1 tumors, and are associated with extensive areas of carcinoma in situ. Multiple tumors, large tumors, and those that recur despite BCG treatment are also at an increased risk for recurrence and progression. These tumors have a recurrence rate in the range of 50% to 70% at one and five years, respectively. They are also much likely to invade into the deeper layers. These tumors need to be managed and followed up more aggressively since they have a potential to invade and spread to other parts of the body thereby shortening the life expectancy of the patient.

After radical cystectomy, survival depends mostly on the stage of the disease. The five-year disease specific survival for various stages after a radical cystectomy is as follows.

  • T2, N0: 70% to 80%
  • T3, N0: 40% to 50%
  • T4, N0: 25% to 30%
  • N+ (patients with lymph node involvement): 15% to 20%

Five-year survival is rare in patients with metastatic disease, despite chemotherapy. It is important to note that these are statistics compiled for large groups of patients. Every individual patient is different from the others and may have outcomes starkly different from those mentioned in the average analysis above. Surviving bladder cancers depends on whether the cancer has spread.The 5-year relative survival rate for localized bladder cancer is 70.2%. Cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes has a 5-year survival rate of 33%. Metastasized cancer (spread throughout the body) has a 5-year survival rate of 5.4%

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/26/2013

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