Bladder Cancer Treatment Reforms Needed, Says NICE

Changes Are Needed To Stop The Postcode Lottery Regarding Bladder Cancer Treatment


Although bladder cancer is the seventh most common form of the disease to affect patients in the UK, individuals face something of a postcode lottery when it comes to determining the standard of treatment they will receive.

This is according to a new report from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which is now developing its first ever guidelines relating to the treatment of the potentially life-threatening condition to ensure patients are getting the best possible care, regardless of where they live.

Approximately 10,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year, resulting in around 5,000 deaths. The location of the tumours can mean it is not only a patient's bladder that is affected, but possibly also their bowel and sexual function.

However, depending on where a patient lives, the care they receive may vary significantly.

While bladder cancer is often diagnosed following a visit to the GP, in some cases it is not detected until an individual is admitted to hospital complaining of severe discomfort.

Symptoms for people to look out for include burning and bleeding during urination, as well as needing the toilet more frequently.

These can be signs of less severe infections, but it is important that patients receive the correct care for their health complaints regardless.

Centre for Clinical Practice director at NICE Professor Mark Baker explained: "There are effective treatments available, but we know that there is a wide variation across the country in how well the disease is diagnosed and the care available locally."

In light of this, NICE has drafted a series of recommendations for the treatment of bladder cancer, which include improved diagnosis, better information and support to be given to patients and their next of kin and changes to the management of both the high-risk muscle-invasive and non-muscle-invasive forms of the disease.

Professor Baker stated: "Recommendations made in this new draft guideline emphasise the importance of ensuring patients have all the information they need to enable them to make better informed decisions about their care, improving their quality of life during and after treatment."

Expert Opinion
All patients should have access to the same standard of care and treatment no matter where they live, which makes the findings of this NICE report concerning, as a wide variety of care quality was recorded. The early diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as bladder cancer is vital and can increase the likelihood of patient survival and recovery.

“We hope that the recommendations drafted by NICE to improve the diagnosis, treatment and support for those suffering with bladder cancer will be quickly implemented across the national health service and help to improve the standard of care across the board. Ensuring all patients have access to the same help and support is crucial, as all too often we have seen the serious issues that can arise when patients are neglected and unable to access the standard of care they deserve.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner