What’s the Life Expectancy for People with Aggressive Bladder Cancer?

Q: I have bladder cancer. My doctor said it’s aggressive. What does aggressive bladder cancer mean? And what’s my life expectancy?

A: There are two ways used to describe bladder cancer. One is stage, and the other is grade. While the stage describes the extent of involvement, the grade describes the appearance of cancer cells. “Aggressive” is an adjective used in grade. It means that the cancer cells are very irregular and more abnormal compared with the normal cells of the bladder. The more irregular those cells seen, the more likely the cancer is “aggressive”. So “aggressive” suggests a higher grade tumor in the bladder.

About 90% of people with superficial bladder cancer survive for at least five years after treatment. Nearly 5% of people with metastatic bladder cancer survive for at least two years after treatment. Patients with high-stage or high-grade (aggressive) bladder cancer has a poor outlook for long-term survival.

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