Data from various cancer registries in the United Kingdom shows that Bladder Cancer is a common cancer among men and women in the United Kingdom, with 10.335 new cases diagnosed in 2008. [1][2][3][4] It is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancer of the urinary system and accounts for 1 in every 30 new cases. With 7,390 new cases diagnosed in 2008, is a the 4th most common cancer in men [5] and 11th in women (2,945 female cases), giving a male: female ration of 5:2.

Unfortunately, bladder cancer has an extremely low priority in the UK. Action on Bladder Cancer, a UK charity focused on improving public awareness, understanding, medical knowledge and active in improve the priority of bladder cancer on the UK health agenda, reports that almost half (45%) of the UK public do not know that even just one episode of blood in the urine, the most common warning sign, could mean bladder cancer.[6] Smoking is the most common cause of bladder cancer and yet 95% of people are not aware of this. Action on Bladder Cancer works to create a stronger recognition of bladder cancer amongst the general public and the medical profession in order to prevent avoidable deaths.

Clinical trials
A recent paper highlighted clinical studies in bladder cancer compared with other cancers with a similar incidence. [7] Well-designed randomized controlled trials usually provide the strongest evidence possible regarding the efficacy of new diagnostic tools or interventions and yet studies into bladder cancer are comparatively few and those that have been performed are under-utilised.

Not just one disease
Alison Birtle, Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer & Consultant Oncologist, Preston; Action on Bladder Cancer Trustee and Chair of the NCRI Clinical Sub Group on Bladder Cancer noted: “Bladder cancer is not just one disease. As our medical understanding is growing, we need to be tailoring information accordingly for patients, so that they receive sufficient information on their condition to be involved in making informed choices about their care options. The type of information that someone with low risk bladder cancer will need is very different from someone who has been diagnosed with very late stage disease.”

A more robust framework of support is needed for all patients with bladder cancer. New initiatives may help to improve the lives of people. One such example is a new group being set up by NHS Lothian in South East Scotland with Maggies, Macmillan and SCAN (South East Scotland Cancer Network).

“The focus of the South East Scotland Support Group is an ‘out of hospital’ service for those affected by bladder cancer to share and learn from others with similar experiences. Supplementing the care provided within the healthcare setting, this group is being established around a ‘buddying system’ and workshops specifically tailored to different states of the disease. Over and above what we do as Clinicians, extended care is critical for a patient with cancer. I term this Communication, Information and Support or CIS. Our Support Group looks to bring individuals together who can help others likely to go through a similar experience of care,” said Param Mariappan, Consultant Urologist, NHS Lothian.

A Journey
Brian Sibbald, a bladder cancer patient involved in the Group said: “At the moment, because of my treatment, I don’t have cancer, but I feel I am still on a journey. To me, it is important to find ways, such as a dedicated support group to share and reassure others who are more recently diagnosed with bladder cancer.”

Action on Bladder Cancer supports the Be Clear on Cancer Campaign run by the Department of Health as well as Bladder Cancer initiatives organised throughout the US during in May – July 2013.

“The profile of bladder cancer and, as a result, the care of patients can be significantly improved by asking the public and healthcare professionals and providers to become involved in our dedicated Charity,- we want to work together,” noted Colin Bunce, Chair of Action on Bladder Cancer and Consultant Urologist in Barnet.

References:
[1] Office for National Statistics, 2011 Cancer Statistics registrations: registrations of cancer diagnosed in 2008, England.
[2] Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit,Cancer Incidence in Wales
[3] ISD Online Cancer Incidence, Mortality and Survival data. Last accessed, May 2013
[4 ]Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, 2011 Cancer Incidence and Mortality.
[5] Cancer Research UK, Cancer Stats Key Facts, Bladder Cancer
[6] GfK NOP Survey on bladder cancer for Action on Bladder Cancer, April 2012
[7] Bassel et al. (2013). Demographic analysis of randomized controlled trials in bladder cancer. BJU International 111:3;419-426

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