Recently, a United Kingdom charity quizzed 1,015 people in Great Britain face-to-face to find out how much they knew about bladder cancer. The participants were aged 16 and older. While awareness around this type of cancer is gradually increasing, the survey exposed just how little people know about the disease.
Dr. Colin Bunce, an urologist in the London borough of Barnet, and chair of Action on Bladder Cancer charity, said the goal of the survey is not to make everyone experts, “but such a huge lack of understanding can lead to people being misdiagnosed or diagnosed at a later stage which can narrow down the best treatment choices. Over the last two decades bladder cancer has been in the shadows. Greater public attention is urgently needed to improve understanding about the disease so that people know when and where to go for help.”
In recognition of Bladder Cancer Awareness Day on May 5, 2012, take this quiz to find out how much you know about the disease and compare your answers to the survey's findings.
The main warning sign for bladder cancer is:
- Lower stomach pain
- Blood in the urine
- A constant need to urinate
If you answered blood in the urine, you’re right and join 55 percent of those surveyed in choosing the right answer. A constant need to urinate may be a sign of bladder cancer, but is more often associated with a urinary tract infection.
If you answered stomach pain you should know bladder cancer is typically painless, which can mask the severity of the tumor and may influence patients to postpone seeking immediate medical care. One-quarter of those surveyed didn’t know what a possible sign of bladder cancer may be.
The most common cause of bladder cancer is:
- drinking too much alcohol
- consuming soft drink beverages
- using chemicals at work
More than half of those surveyed didn’t know what causes bladder cancer. If you answered "drinking too much alcohol" you're wrong, but don’t feel bad, so did one in five people surveyed.
Only 5 percent stated they thought smoking is the most common cause, which is in fact the case. Smokers get bladder cancer twice as often as people who don’t smoke.
Just 1 percent said "using chemicals at work," which is the second most common cause. People who work with chemicals called aromatic amines may have higher risk. These chemicals are used in making rubber, leather, printing materials, textiles and paint product.
How common is bladder cancer?
- Not common at all. It’s diagnosed in only 1 percent of the male population
- In the U.K., bladder cancer is the 4th most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and the 11th most common in women.
- Bladder cancer is the 5th most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S. - 4th among men (after prostate, lung and colon) and 11th among women.
If you answered "not common at all," you might be stunned to learn that it's very common. The U.K. and U.S. statistics are correct.
In 2012, it is estimated that more than 73,000 new cases of bladder cancer will be diagnosed and nearly 15,000 people will die from the disease in the United States alone. Another 10,000 will be diagnosed in the U.K. this year.
However, bladder cancer is treatable if caught early and the number of people living with the disease is rising. There are more than 520,000 bladder cancer survivors in the United States.
Lynette Summerill is an award-winning writer and Scuba enthusiast living in San Diego, CA with her husband and two beach loving dogs. In addition to writing about cancer-related issues for EmpowHER, her work has been seen in newspapers and magazines around the world.
Sources and consumer information:
Action on Bladder Cancer (ABC). About Bladder Cancer. Online at: http://www.actiononbladdercancer.org/content.php?id=155g=2/About-bladder-cancer.
Survey results at:
Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN). Facing bladder cancer. Online at:
National Cancer Institute. About Bladder Cancer. Access at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/bladder
Cancer Research UK’s ‘CancerStats – Key Facts. Access at: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerstats
Reviewed May 3, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith