Bladder cancer survival in England has taken a down-turn, driven by a "huge lack of understanding" of the disease and late diagnoses holding back treatment outcomes.

A new analysis, published in the Journal of Clinical Urology, found that, despite the number of new cases in bladder cancer falling, the number of deaths has not reduced by the same magnitude.

The overall number of new cases fell by around 19% between 1990 and 2009, but the number of deaths from the disease only dropped by around 10%, which, the authors note, indicates that survival is worsening. 

According to the charity Action on Bladder Cancer (ABC), the lack of understanding about bladder cancer can lead to people being mis-diagnosed or diagnosed at a later stage in the disease, reducing their survival chances.

A single episode of blood in the urine could indicate that the condition is present and yet almost half (45%) of the UK public are not aware of this, so many people fail to seek initial advice from their GP when their disease is still very treatable, it says.

Hugh Mostafid, ABC chair and co-author of the paper, says "much more needs to urgently be done to help combat this common and potentially devastating illness". 

Awareness among the public and frontline doctors of the signs of bladder cancer must be raised, all those with suspected bladder cancer need equal access and treatment to care, and treatment of non muscle-invasive bladder cancer in particular must be improved with earlier radical treatment, the paper stressed.