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Bladder Cancer Statistics

What is bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer occurs when cells in the lining of the bladder grow and divide in an abnormal, uncontrolled way. There are three main types of bladder cancer. Approximately 90% of bladder cancers are urothelial carcinoma, which begins in urothelial cells of the bladders lining. The less common types are squammous cell carcinoma (develop in the bladder lining) and adenocarcinoma (develops from glandular cells).

You can access further information about bladder cancer, including risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment from Cancer Council Victoria. You can also call our trusted cancer nurses on 13 11 20 for support and to learn about our range of services for people affected by cancer.

The Victorian Cancer Registry also operates an interactive web portal, Data Explorer, which provides more trends and statistics than published here.

How common is bladder cancer?

In 2021, 736 Victorians were diagnosed with bladder cancer. Of these, there were 559 males and 177 females, representing 76% and 24% of the total Victorian bladder cancer diagnoses, respectively. Currently, bladder cancer is diagnosed at a rate of 7.6 per 100,000 males and 2.1 per 100,000 females. The median age at diagnosis of bladder cancer is 73 years in males and 75 in females (Figure 1 & 2). Accounting for 2% of all cancers diagnosed and 2.8% of all cancer-related deaths in 2021, bladder cancer was the 15th most commonly diagnosed cancer and the 12th most common cause of cancer-related deaths in Victoria.

Figure 1: Distribution of bladder cancer incidence in 2021, by sex within age groups

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2023)

Figure 2: Distribution of bladder cancer incidence in 2021, compared to the distribution of the Victorian population in 2021, by 5-year age brackets

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2023)

Bladder cancer morphology

Figure 4 provides a summary of the different types of cells (morphology) which have caused bladder cancer among all cases. Most bladder cancer tumours, 90.2%, present as Urothelial carcinoma tumours.

Figure 4: Distribution of bladder cancer morphologies between 2012-2021

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2023)

Geographical variance in bladder cancer by local government area

Figure 5 demonstrates variation in age-standardised incidence rates of bladder cancer, by local government areas. Darker shading indicates areas with higher rates of bladder cancer.

Figure 5: Variation in the incidence of bladder cancer for the period 2017-2021, by location of residence in Victoria

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2023)

Bladder cancer in people born overseas

Figure 6 shows the age standardised incidence rates of bladder cancer in Australian-born Victorians compared to other major migrant groups, over the five-year period 2017 to 2021. The highest age standardised incidence rate for bladder cancer was 11.6 for males born in the Middle East and North Africa region and the lowest rate of 3.1 was observed in males born in the South-East Asia region. The highest age standardised incidence rate for bladder cancer was 2.2 for females born in the UK and Ireland region and lowest rate of 0.6 was observed in females born in the South and Central America region.

Figure 6: Age standardised incidence rates and 95% confidence intervals for bladder cancer in Victorians born in Australia compared to Victorians born in other countries for the period 2017-2021, by sex

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2023)

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2023)

Bladder cancer five-year relative survival

Figure 7 shows the change in 5-year survival for bladder cancer, and the 5-year survival trend for all cancers over the same time period. It demonstrates that five-year relative survival has decreased for bladder cancer between 1986-1990 and 2016-2020 from 70% to 56%.

Figure 7: Trend in five year relative survival following diagnosis of bladder cancer in five year brackets, from the period 1986-1990 to 2016-2020

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2023)

This webpage was last updated in February 2023

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