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Men's Health 2021

Bladder cancer – what you need to know

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Shidlovski

Jackie O’Kelly

UK Patient Support Officer, Action Bladder Cancer 

Sarah Bowdage Spencer

UK Patient Support Officer, Action Bladder Cancer 

Bladder cancer isn’t rare – it’s one of the 10 most common cancers in the UK with, in total, over 20,000 people diagnosed each year and around three quarters of cases occurring in men.  


Importantly, bladder cancer has a high rate of recurrence following treatment – up to 80% – and is one of the most expensive cancers for the NHS to treat. Despite being common and having a high recurrence rate, it only receives a fraction of dedicated cancer research funding. As a result, development of new approaches and treatments for bladder cancer has been slow for the past 40 years. Patients often have to live with long term invasive monitoring and ongoing treatment and, in some cases, life changing major surgery and loss of their bladder. 

Looking out for symptoms  

Diagnosis can sometimes be late. People often don’t know what symptoms to look out for and many patients tell us that the first they heard of bladder cancer was when they were diagnosed.  

As with all cancers, the sooner it’s diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome and so it’s important that you do contact your GP as soon as you notice anything unusual. While symptoms can be hard to spot, the more common symptoms of bladder cancer include blood in the urine (even just once), recurrent urinary infections, and frequency, urgency or pain on passing urine when no infection is found on urine tests by doctors. If, after first contacting your GP, your symptoms don’t improve in a few weeks go back to your GP – don’t ignore it. 

Of course, these symptoms may not be bladder cancer, but you should tell your doctor if you notice anything new. 

Bladder cancer has a high rate of recurrence following treatment – up to 80% – and is one of the most expensive cancers for the NHS to treat.

Conducting further research

ABC UK funds much-needed research into bladder cancer – looking at new ways of testing, treatment or improving the patient experience. 

As an organisation, we are currently running the second ABC UK patient survey looking at the impact of COVID-19 on the treatment, monitoring and wellbeing of those with bladder cancer. 

ABC UK Patient Survey COVID-19 

Action Bladder Cancer UK (ABC UK) is working to raise awareness of bladder cancer and to provide support and information for patients and their families. We provide direct patient support by phone and email and set up and sustain patient support groups around the country (in person or online).  

Visit our website at www.actionbladdercanceruk.org  

See the ABC UK Bladder Cancer Symptoms Guide

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