Cancer survival rates can give you a general idea of how long people live after diagnosis but not much about your outlook. Looking at bladder cancer statistics by stage and tumor grade, as well as factors like age and general health, may be more useful.

The therapies you and your doctor choose and how quickly you start treatment will also affect your outlook. Additionally, not everyone responds to a particular treatment the same way.

That said, read on to learn more about bladder cancer survival rates and what may be involved in your prognosis.

To understand what a cancer survival rate may mean for your outlook, it’s important to know the type of statistic you’re looking at. A 5-year survival rate, for example, reflects the percentage of people who live at least 5 years after diagnosis. That means some of those people live well beyond 5 years.

The relative 5-year survival rate means something else entirely, and it’s arguably more informative. This figure conveys the percentage of people with bladder cancer who are likely to live at least 5 years after diagnosis compared to those who don’t have bladder cancer.

These statistics are based on large numbers of people, which is good. But those people received diagnoses at least 5 years ago — or more in some cases. As bladder cancer treatment evolves, better therapies are available all the time. Any recent improvement in outlook won’t be reflected in those statistics.

Survival rates also don’t specify if survivors are in remission or are still in treatment. Nor do they consider each person’s cancer stage and tumor grade, specific treatment, age, or general health.

According to the National Cancer Institute’s surveillance, epidemiology, and end results program (SEER), the relative survival rates for all stages of bladder cancer are:

  • 1 year: 89%
  • 3 years: 81%
  • 5 years: 77%
  • 10 years: 70%

The 5-year survival rates broken down by stage give you a clearer picture of why stage matters. These figures are from the American Cancer Society:

  • in situ (only in the bladder): 96%
  • localized: 70%
  • regional: 38%
  • distant: 6%
  • all stages: 77%

Survival rates by stage are based on the stage at diagnosis. Another important factor for outlook is the tumor grade. The grade represents how quickly the cancer is likely to grow and spread. Low grade bladder cancer is less likely than high grade cancer to spread into the bladder’s muscle wall and beyond.

The median age of diagnosis is 73. The chance of a male developing bladder cancer is about 1 in 27, whereas the chance of a female getting it is 1 in 89. However, certain risk factors can make a person’s chance of getting it higher than the average.

Young adults and children can develop bladder cancer, even though it’s less commonly seen in people in these age groups. Although the risk of disease progression is the same, younger people tend to be diagnosed in the earlier stages when the prognosis is better.

Bladder cancer tends to recur, so you’re still considered at high risk after your treatment ends. Some people with superficial bladder cancer experience frequent recurrences throughout their lives.

Research shows that the 1-year recurrence rate is anywhere from 15% to 61%, and the 5-year recurrence rate is between 31% and 78%.

It’s unclear if you can do anything to prevent bladder cancer from recurring. But recurrence can be treated, especially when localized, so it’s important to:

  • see your doctor regularly
  • follow any recommended schedule of lab tests or imaging tests
  • report signs and symptoms of bladder cancer right away
  • take prescribed medications as instructed

You can also do a few things to stay as healthy and strong as possible, such as:

  • manage weight
  • get regular exercise
  • eat a balanced diet
  • not smoking

Whether your cancer is in remission or still being treated, bladder cancer can affect every aspect of your life. It’s not uncommon to feel stress, anxiety, or difficulty with symptoms and side effects.

Talking with family and friends can be helpful. You can also consider joining an online or in-person support group, where you’ll likely meet people who understand your concerns. It’s a good way to get support — and to give it too.

Ask your doctor or hospital for information about local resources or visit:

You can learn a lot from statistics, but they can’t give you a prognosis. Your doctor will factor in your unique circumstances to give you a general idea of what to expect with bladder cancer.