Interest in and awareness of bladder cancer may translate to better health-seeking behaviors and earlier detection, given modifiable risk factors such as smoking. We assessed bladder cancer interest in the USA over the past 15 years as reflected by Internet search trends, and correlated these trends with epidemiologic patterns in bladder cancer. Google Trends was used to estimate US bladder cancer interest in the unit search volume index (SVI), which estimates the volume of online search activity for a specified period relative to the highest volume of searches within a specified location. Between January 2004 and June 2019, SVIs were collected for the search term “bladder cancer” and other related search terms. To evaluate the effect of public awareness campaigns, the SVIs for the month of May (US bladder cancer awareness month) were compared with the SVIs of all other months. Correlations between “bladder cancer” SVI and incidence, mortality, and mortality-to-incidence ratio (proxy for survival) by state were evaluated. There was no increase in the relative search volumes for “bladder cancer” during the national bladder cancer awareness month compared with all other months (p = 0.27). By state, there were positive correlations between SVIs of “bladder cancer” and incidence (R = 0.72, p < 0.001) and mortality (R = 0.47, p < 0.001). However, there was no correlation between SVIs and mortality-to-incidence ratio (R = - 0.24, p = 0.08). Interest in bladder cancer is positively associated with disease incidence and mortality but not survival, suggesting interest is driven by new diagnoses or deaths, and not early detection that can improve survival. Our findings may show the need for better public education endeavors.

References

PubMed