If bladder cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 39.2%. If it has spread to a distant site, the 5-year survival rate is 8.3%.

Receiving a diagnosis of stage 4 bladder cancer can feel overwhelming.

Many cancer treatments can be challenging. However, treatment can reduce or even eliminate your symptoms and help you live a longer, more comfortable life.

That said, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of treating stage 4 bladder cancer because treatments have side effects and risks.

Read on to learn more about stage 4 bladder cancer and how it’s managed.

Stage 4 bladder cancer is also called metastatic bladder cancer. This means the cancer has spread outside the bladder into other areas.

It is the most advanced stage, and the outlook is less promising than in earlier stages.

Symptoms of bladder cancer can include:

  • blood or blood clots in your urine
  • pain or burning during urination
  • frequent urination
  • needing to urinate at night
  • needing to urinate but not being able to
  • lower back pain on one side of the body

These symptoms commonly lead to a diagnosis, but they aren’t unique to stage 4 bladder cancer.

People with metastatic cancer may experience symptoms relating to where the cancer has spread. For example, if bladder cancer has spread to the lungs, they may experience chest pain or increased coughing.

Metastatic bladder cancer is difficult to control because it has already traveled to other parts of the body. The later you receive a diagnosis and the farther the cancer has traveled, the less chance it can be controlled.

For bladder cancer, if the cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 39.2%. If it has spread to a distant site, the 5-year survival rate is 8.3%.

These percentages of people will survive for 5 years after diagnosis compared to those who do not have bladder cancer, and the rates improved slightly over time.

There are still treatment options for this stage that help control the cancer for as long as possible. This includes chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Keep in mind that new treatments are always in development.

While receiving treatment, people can also receive palliative care to help manage their symptoms and maximize their quality of life.

You may be able to join a clinical trial. Trials may study the effectiveness of new therapies and combinations, such as adding new anticancer or immunotherapy drugs to other therapies. Sometimes, they may be paid for.

Prognosis and treatment options rely heavily on the details of each person’s disease and overall health.

Does chemo work for stage 4 bladder cancer?

Chemotherapy is part of the treatment a person with stage 4 bladder cancer receives. Its effectiveness, however, depends on the person and their specific cancer.

How aggressive is bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer can be aggressive. That said, it is less likely to be aggressive than many other cancers. Research shows that when it first manifests, about 70% of people will have a non-invasive form.

Where is the first place bladder cancer spreads?

If bladder cancer spreads, it usually affects the organs closer to the bladder first. This includes the urethra, prostate, and vagina.

Knowing cancer grade and other details can help better predict prognosis, treatment options, and life expectancy.

Of course, these survival rates and numbers are only estimates. They can’t predict what will happen to every person. Some people will live longer or shorter than these estimated rates.

Reading them can be confusing and may lead to more questions. Be sure to talk openly with your healthcare professionals to better understand your situation.