• CIFCF Staff

Bladder Cancer Remains a Common, Yet Underfunded Disease.

Bladder cancer remains a common, yet underfunded disease, with significant socioeconomic impact.


It is estimated that the U.S. will see 81,400 new cases with 17,980 deaths in 2020[i]. Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer within the U.S. veteran population; and the incident rates are two times greater than the U.S. population for exposures linked to pesticide containing arsenics. [ii]

Although exciting new discoveries are being made through molecular and genetic analyses of bladder cancer, significant gaps remain in how these findings can be translated into improved patient care. Smoking is a leading risk factor associated with bladder cancer, but male sex, advancing age, and white race are also strong risk factors. Despite mounting evidence in the 1950s of the adverse health effects of smoking and tobacco use, the military continued to include cigarettes in rations until 1975,[iii] and the prevalence of tobacco product use in the veteran population is reported to be 29.2% compared to 19.7% among adults across the U.S..[iv],[v]

From 1961 to 1971, approximately 1,000,000 gallons of Agent Blue, containing high levels of arsenic were sprayed over the southern region of Vietnam.[i] Inorganic arsenic compounds have been linked to cancer of the bladder[ii]. In addition, from the 1950s through the 1980s, people serving or living at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, were potentially exposed to drinking water contaminated with industrial solvents, benzene, and other chemicals. This chemical exposure may have led to adverse health conditions, including bladder cancer.[iii]

FROM 2016 – 2018 THE PRCRP HAS FUNDED $21,293,349


Finally, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) currently associates 14 cancers and other health problems with exposure to Agent Orange.[i] This recognition allows for Veterans and their family to be eligible for benefits. While bladder cancer is not currently recognized, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine includes bladder cancer on its list of “suggestive evidence of association,” of which 8 of the 12 on that list are currently recognized by the VA as a presumptive disease from Agent Orange exposure.[ii] In 2019, the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee urged the VA Secretary to add four more health-related outcomes to the presumptive list of exposure to Agent Orange, including bladder cancer. [iii]

Crush It For Curtis Foundation For Bladder Cancer is working with the AUA, and the research advocacy community to submit Appropriations letters to promote research funding for bladder cancer in the Department of Defense (DoD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP). The Appropriations letters request Members of Congress to allocate a $10 million line item for Bladder Cancer.

[i] US Department of Veterans Affairs, Veteran’s Diseases Associated with Agent Orange. Retrieved from https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/index.asp

[ii] The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine. Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 11 (2018)

[iii] VA to Expand List of Medical Conditions for Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange. Retrieved from https://www.veterans.senate.gov/newsroom/minority-news/tester-colleagues-urge-va-to-expand-list-of-medical-conditions-for-veterans-exposed-to-agent-orange-. Accessed February 3, 2020

[i] H.R.2519 - Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2013113th Congress (2013-2014).

[ii] NCI Cancer Trends Progress Report, Retrieved March 9, 2016 from https://progressreport.cancer.gov/prevention/arsenic.

[iii] US Department of Veterans Affairs, July, 2015, CAMP LEJEUNE: PAST WATER CONTAMINATION, IB 10-449.

[i] American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2020. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2020.

[ii] Report to Congressional Defense Committees. Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs – Peer reviewed cancer research program. January 2020

[iii] Joseph AM, Muggli M, Pearson KC, Lando H. (2005). The cigarette manufacturers' efforts to promote tobacco to the U.S. Military." Military Medicine 170: 874–880.

[iv] Odani S, Agaku IT, Graffunder CM, Tynan MA, Armour BS. (2018). Tobacco product use among military veterans – United States, 2010–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 67:7–12. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6701a2. Accessed February 3, 2020.

[v] Creamer MR, Wang TW, Babb S, et al. (2019). Tobacco product use and cessation indicators among adults – United States, 2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 68:1013–1019. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6845a2 Accessed February 3, 2020.

Reprinted with permission from the AUA

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