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Risk Factors

Bladder Cancer Risk Factors

Smoking Tobacco

Cigarette smoking is the primary risk factor for bladder cancer and accounts for approximately 60 to 70 percent of cases in the United States. Bladder cancer frequently begins in the cells that line the inside of the bladder because harmful chemicals from smoking, called carcinogens, can damage the lining of the bladder. Urologists and cancer specialists at Doylestown Health strongly encourage anyone who smokes cigarettes to quit smoking to lower their risk for bladder and many other forms of cancer.

Additional Risk Factors for Bladder Cancer

In addition to smoking, there are other risk factors that may contribute to bladder cancer. These risks include exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace, personal or lifestyle choices, family history, and certain chemotherapy and radiation treatments for other forms of cancer.

  • Chemical exposure: Chemical exposure is the second most common risk factor for bladder cancer. Chemicals and other industrial substances in the workplace, such as arsenic, pesticides and the manufacturing of dyes, rubber, leather, textiles and paint, may contribute to bladder cancer.
  • Chemotherapy: Some chemotherapy drugs, such as cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide, may increase an individual's risk of developing bladder cancer.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy in the pelvic area for cervical, prostate or rectal cancer may contribute to the development of bladder cancer.
  • Cystitis or chronic urinary infections or inflammations: Repeat urinary infections or inflammation may increase an individual's risk for squamous cell bladder cancer.
  • Demographics: People over age 65 are diagnosed more frequently with bladder cancer. The disease is rare in people under age 40. Men develop bladder cancer more frequently than women. Caucasians develop the disease more than people of other races.
  • Bladder birth defect: While birth defects of the bladder are rare, this condition may be linked to bladder cancer.
  • Personal or family history: In most cases, bladder cancer does not run in families; however, if one or more of your close relatives has a history of the disease, you may be at risk. Anyone with a family history of Lynch Syndrome or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) may be at risk for cancer in the urinary system, colon, uterus, ovaries or other organs.

If you are concerned about your risk for bladder cancer, talk to your primary care provider about your screening options.

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