Urothelial carcinoma (UC) is the fourth most common cancer in men in the Western world and the second most frequent malignancy of the urinary tract after prostate cancer. It can be located in the lower (bladder and urethra) or upper (pyelo-caliceal cavities and ureter) urinary tract. Bladder UC accounts for 90–95% of UCs, still claiming more than 52,000 lives each year in Europe (1). In the United States, there will be an estimated 76,960 new bladder UC cases and 16,390 related deaths in 2016 (2). While survival rates have improved over the past thirty years, with 50% of people surviving their disease for more than 10 years compared to only a third in the 1970s—there is still a great deal of work to be done. For example, in addition to the 5% of patients who present with metastatic disease, roughly 50% of patients with muscle invasive disease will ultimately develop distant metastases, demonstrating the lethality of the disease (3). Yet despite a prevalence and morbidity/mortality, UC has been overlooked by both decision-makers, the pharmaceutical industry, and the society in general. This lack of investment has resulted in few new treatment options being available to patients, delays in diagnosis because of the lack of awareness resulting in the current low survival rates. Current funding levels for research do, indeed, not reflect the burden, nor the complexity of the disease.
Guest Editors (From left to right):
Shahrokh F. Shariat, Department of Urology, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria; Department of Urology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, TX, USA; Department of Urology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA; Karl Landsteiner Institute, Vienna, Austria.
Romain Mathieu, Department of Urology, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria; Department of Urology, Rennes University Hospital, Rennes, France.