What Causes Bladder Cancer?

The following factors increase risk for bladder cancer:

  • Smoking. Smokers are four times more likely to develop bladder cancer than non-smokers. About half of all cases of bladder cancer are attributed to smoking.
  • Race. Nearly twice as many Caucasian Americans develop bladder cancer as African Americans. However, African American patients are more likely to have more advanced disease at diagnosis.
  • Male. Men are 3.8 times more likely than women to develop bladder cancer.
  • Age. Bladder cancer is more frequently diagnosed among people age 75 to 84. If you are over age 65, you are more likely to develop bladder cancer and that the tumor will be aggressive.
  • Family history. Having a first-degree relative (parent, sibling or child) diagnosed with bladder cancer increases risk.
  • Previous cancer or treatment that involved certain drugs such as cyclophosphamide or radiation therapy to the abdomen or pelvis.
  • Chemical exposures.  Working in certain industries ¾ dye, rubber, chemical, metal, painting, printing, hairdressing, dry cleaning, textile and leather ¾ may increase your risk because the work involves exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Arsenic. Found in some soil and minerals, arsenic has been used in pesticides and wood preservation. The use of arsenic in wood preservatives was banned in 2002 and current safety measures limit arsenic levels in public drinking water.
  • Hereditary conditions such as hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), also known as Lynch Syndrome.