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Home » Men's healthcare » Let’s talk about bladders — you might help someone become a cancer survivor

Dr Jit Saini BSc, MBBS

Senior Vice President, Head of Medical Affairs Europe, Merck Healthcare

Bladder cancer is the 8th most common cancer for men in the UK and predominantly affects the elderly; it is highest in people aged 85 to 89.1

Discussions with men about their health can sometimes be challenging for many reasons, from stigma to attitude, preconceptions, personalities and relationships. Some topics, however, cannot and should not be avoided.  

Challenges in bladder cancer care 

Merck has built up expertise in bladder cancer, which is difficult to treat, but we can make a difference. We often hear how difficult it can be to discuss symptoms with patients such as frequent urination or blood in urine.  

In the UK, 1.3 million men aged 65 and over are living alone — a 67% jump between 2000 and 2019.2 While the role of loved ones remains vital, we must also be mindful of those who may live in isolation.  

Bladder cancer has an extremely
high mortality rate of around 50%.

Bladder cancer conversations can be lifesaving 

It is uncomfortable, but vital to talk about; bladder cancer has an extremely high mortality rate of around 50% and as many as 1 in 4 cases will only be diagnosed at a late stage.3 

Recent data from the ESMO cancer conference showed that 69% of UK patients are not receiving a first-line treatment; one of the lowest rates in Europe. To make matters worse, bladder cancer has a high recurrence rate of up to 80%, so it can often be an ongoing, strenuous and exhaustive saga for patients.  

This all means that being aware of potential symptoms and speaking up about them can help survival. Fight Bladder Cancer UK and Action Bladder Cancer UK have resources on their website, and GPs can always help. Each one of us has or will be touched by cancer in some way in our lives, so let’s keep talking and help more cancer patients become cancer survivors.  

Job code: UI-ONC-00004

Date of prep: November 2023

[1] Cancer Research UK, Cancer Statistics. Available from,are%20caused%20by%20workplace%20
exposures. Accessed October 2023.
[2] Centre for better ageing, Summary the State of Ageing Report 2022. 
Available at . Accessed October 2023
[3] Action Bladder Cancer UK, The Facts About Bladder Cancer. Available from . Accessed October 2023.

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