Shoulder to shoulder with patients with bladder cancer during times of pandemic (Guest blog)

The month of May marks Bladder Cancer Awareness Month, organised by the World Bladder Cancer Patient Coalition (WBCPC) and its members in Europe and across the globe. This annual milestone notably aims to promote facts about bladder cancer, raise awareness about the disease and call for more investments into scientific research.

I’m proud that Merck supports WBCPC and its members in their efforts to provide bladder cancer patients and carers around the world with the information and support they need on the disease.

Today, bladder cancer remains one of the hardest hitting diseases globally. It is the 10th most common cancer diagnosed in the world, estimated to account for more than half a million new cases in 2018 and approximately 200,000 deaths worldwide.[1]  When bladder cancer is locally advanced, the median five-year survival rate is approximately 35%; when it is metastatic, however, the survival rate is only 5%.[2]

Such challenges have been further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to add to the burden already faced by patients with cancer around the globe. As highlighted by the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), since the eruption of the pandemic, numerous cancer patients across Europe have been released from hospitals and sent home, sometimes even without treatment.

Patients with bladder cancer are certainly no exception to this worrisome trend, as they are among the most vulnerable during this time of pandemic.  And while meaningful clinical progress in bladder cancer research has been made over the last 50 years, unmet needs in this regard clearly persist, as patients with advanced disease have limited options when it comes to innovative treatments.

With our biology-driven approach, Merck has the concentrated focus to discover, develop, and deliver innovative new medicines to patients facing aggressive forms of cancer. We are truly devoted to transforming the treatment paradigm for patients with bladder cancer with innovative solutions such as immuno-oncology therapies. To do this, we partner with some of the leading minds in the cancer community to pursue innovative solutions where true unmet needs – such as those faced by patients with bladder cancer – exist.

Raising awareness about bladder cancer and treatment options while promoting collaborative approaches and support to patients and their carers is more necessary than ever. This is the reason we support Bladder Cancer Awareness Month.
During times of pandemic, we reaffirm our commitment to stand shoulder to shoulder with cancer patients to ensure that their voices are heard, and their needs are met. More specifically, I am proud to reiterate our pledge that #WeWontRest until we have had a meaningful impact on the lives of those with bladder cancer by providing them with access to innovative therapies.
[1]Bray F, et al. Global cancer statistics 2018: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. CA: A Cancer Journal. 2018;68(6):394-424.   
[2] SEER. Cancer stat facts: bladder cancer. Accessed April 2020.

Zhen Su

Zhen Su, MD, MBA is Senior Vice President and Global Head of the Oncology Franchise for Merck (Merck KGaA, Darmstadt,...
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