Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network LogoThe first new treatment for bladder cancer in 30 years was recently approved by the FDA. Andrea Maddox-Smith, CEO of the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, cites this as one of the reasons why creating awareness about the disease is so important.

“I see the situation as being urgent. I think it is unacceptable that this is the first new treatment in 30 years. That said, we are grateful to see this development and hope that more new treatments are approved soon,” she says.

In June of this year, it was announced that results of a study showed that immunotherapy treatment TECENTRIQ™ (atezolizumab) shrank tumors in people with previously untreated advanced bladder cancer who were ineligible for cisplatin-based chemotherapy. These findings are significant, as about half of those diagnosed with this type of bladder cancer are unable to tolerate cisplatin-based chemotherapy.  TECENTRIQ is the first – and only – cancer immunotherapy approved for bladder cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, bladder cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimated that in 2016, more than 76,000 new cases of bladder cancer will be diagnosed and more than 16,000 people will die from bladder cancer.

Despite these numbers, bladder cancer has largely remained under the radar for research and funding.  Those who have the disease tend not to talk about it because they are self-conscious, which can lead to a lack of new treatments because the medical community may not realize the severity of the situation.

As with many cancers, the prognosis for bladder cancer depends on how far the disease has progressed.  According to the American Cancer Society, about half of all bladder cancers are diagnosed while the cancer is confined to the inner layer of the bladder, while about one in three bladder cancers have invaded into deeper layers, but still exist only within in the bladder. In most of the remaining cases, the cancer has spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes outside the bladder. Rarely, the disease has metastasized to distant parts of the body.

One of the biggest hurdles in bladder cancer treatment is the disease’s tendency to recur.

“Bladder cancer is one of the most costly cancers to treat because of the high recurrence rate,” Andrea says.

The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network is one of more than 70 Cancer Partner Organizations that Imerman Angels works with to ensure that cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers have access to the resources they need. The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network spreads awareness about the disease through efforts including meeting with members of Congress, hosting walks, the Survivor 2 Survivor program and BCAN Connection. In 2016, the organization will host its first Leadership Summit on October 14-15. The event helps those diagnosed with bladder cancer communicate their situation effectively and get the word out about the disease.

“We want to perform the same service for bladder cancer that Katie Couric did for colon cancer. We need to bring bladder cancer out of the shadows, so that we do not have to wait another 30 years for a new treatment,” Andrea says.

Learn more about the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network and how you can benefit from their efforts or help the cause.

Get details about working with Imerman Angels as a Cancer Partner Organization by contacting us at outreach@imermanangels.org.