In the analysis of cancer survival rates and prognosis, staging is the process of finding out how widespread the disease. Furthermore, surgeons use it to determine what type of treatment they will apply to their patient. Lastly, doctors perform it by examining the location and the type of the cancer tissue.

Staging is important in bladder cancer because it can determine different prognoses at the various stages and therefore doctors administer different treatments accordingly. It helps to determine one’s health condition to know if the cancer needs treatment or not.

Most physicians use FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) staging system when performing staging processes. It relies entirely on surgery results. The AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer), TNM staging system, involves three factors which include:

  • Tumor:  Extent of the primary tumor
  • Node:  Presence or absence of metastasis to nearby lymph nodes
  • Metastasis: Presence or absence of distant metastasis

The T, N, and M of a person are combined in a process called stage grouping to determine the stage of cancer which is expressed in Roman numerals. Some stages further split into sub-stages that differentiate with each other through letters and numbers. The FIGO staging system is similar to the AJCC stages, except that stage 0 does not exist in the FIGO system, and the following are the steps:

  • Localized/ Stage 0: In this stage, the cancer cells are only present on the surface of the bladder and have not invaded the deeper tissues of the bladder. This stage is also known as carcinoma in situ.
  • Early Stage/ Stage I: In this stage, the disease has invaded the bladder but has not grown in the layer muscle in the bladder, but has not spread to the nearby lymph nodes and distant sites.
  • Stage II: Here, cancer has increased beyond the bladder and uterus but has not spread to the nearby lymph nodes or distant sites. It has also grown into the connective tissue that is beneath the lining layer of the bladder.
  • Stage III: In this stage, the disease has spread to the lower part of the vagina and the walls of the pelvis. However, the disease has not spread to the nearby lymph nodes or distant sites. Cancer has not grown into the abdominal or pelvic wall.
  • Metastasis/ Stage IV: It is the most advanced stage where the cancer has spread to the nearby organs, lymph nodes, distant sites and other body parts. Here, it has further grown through the bladder wall and into the abdominal walls.

Bladder Cancer Survival Rates

Doctors use survival rates as a way of discussing one’s outlook (prognosis). A five-year survival rate is the percentage of patients who lived for at least five years after diagnosis of cancer. The bladder cancer survival rates depend on the previous outcomes of large numbers of people who at one point happened to have cancer.

However, this can change depending on one’s general health, the grade of the cancer, how well one responds to treatment and the treatment doctors administered. However, these rates are estimates and only apply to first cases of cancer.

Relative Survival Rates

These are a more accurate way to evaluate the effect of the disease on survival. It compares the men with bladder cancer to people in the overall population.

The relative cancer survival rates are expressed as a percentage, and they include:

  • The 5-year relative survival rate is about 77%
  • The 10-year relative survival rate is about 70%
  • The 15-year survival rate is about 65%

The cancer survival rates can also be estimated according to the stages which are:

  • Localized/ Stage 0: The five 5-year survival rate is about 98%
  • Early Stage/ Stage I: The 5-year survival rate is about 88%
  • Stage II: The 5-year survival rate is about 63%
  • Stage III: The 5-year survival rate is about 46%
  • Metastasis/ Stage IV: The 5-year survival rate is about 15%

However, these cancer survival rates cannot predict what will happen to an individual and thus leading to many questions.


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CANCER RESEARCH UK. (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2017, from