What Causes Bladder Cancer?

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Are There Specific conditions or Factors that Contribute to Bladder Cancer?

There have been specific contributing factors and conditions associated with what causes bladder cancer. Although there is no known cause of the disease, there are several strong links to the condition, including lifestyle and other factors that can contribute or increase the risk of developing bladder cancer. It is important to note that just because the factors increase the risk of developing the disease, they are not what causes bladder cancer.

What Are Some Of These Contributing Factors?

Knowing the contributing risk factors can help you to identify behaviors such as lifestyle and other changes to help prevent the disease. They can also assist your physician determine if you need to be monitored for the potential of developing the disease. Some of the contributing factors, but not the causes of bladder cancer, are:

  • Smoking Cigarettes – This is the highest risk known that contributes to this type of cancer. It increases the chance to develop the disease by 2.5-fold. Approximately 60 percent of cigarette smoking accounts for all cases of bladder cancer.
  • Chronic Bladder Irritation – Individuals who suffer this chronic condition have a higher risk of cancer. Also included in this risk factor are people that are susceptible to inflammation and infections of the bladder. Bladder and kidney stones and tumors link to cancer. Some patients who have a history of benign bladder tumors are also at a high risk.
  • Pain Medication Abuse – Patients who use or abuse pain medications for a long time are at a higher risk of developing bladder cancer. One of the culprits of some pain medications was phenacetin. This ingredient, however, has since been removed from the market.
  • Chemotherapy Medications – Some medications that contain the drug ifosfamide and cyclophosphamide that are used to treat other types of cancers during chemotherapy can increase the risk of cancer of the bladder.
  • Family History – Individuals who are related to someone who has suffered from bladder cancer are at a much higher risk to develop the disease. Ongoing research for specific genetic risks continues.
  • Patients Who Have a History of Bladder Cancer – It has been determined that patients who have previously experienced bladder cancer, they are at risk to develop the disease again.
  • Occupational Exposure – Some occupations such as painters, truck drivers, hairdressers, and workers in the metal, printing, textile, chemical, rubber and leather industries are at a higher risk to develop bladder cancer. This is because of the exposure to chemicals such as aromatic amines, some organic chemicals, and dyes such as aniline dye.
  • Age, Race, And Gender – These three factors are important to include in the risk factor equation because it has been noted that the risk of this type of cancer increases because the risk of developing bladder cancer increase with these variables. It is rare for a person under the age of 40 to develop the disease; however, the chance to develop it increases with age. Race is a factor because Caucasians have one and a half times more chance of developing this type of cancer than Hispanics or African Americans. The race that has the lower risk of developing bladder cancer is the Asian population. Gender is a risk factor because men are diagnosed with bladder cancer four times more often than women are.

On A Special Note

It is important for you to inform your physician of any of the risk factors mentioned above to allow the physician to better assess your risk of developing bladder cancer. Your physician can determine, by your family history and other factors, if you need close monitoring or other preventative measures to take that can lower the risk of developing the disease. Since what causes bladder cancer is unknown, preventing the disease is one of the best defenses to combat the disease.




VCU Massey Cancer Center


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine


Standford Medicine Cancer Center


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