When you get a diagnosis of bladder cancer, it’s natural to wonder what may have caused the disease. Doctors can’t always explain why one person gets bladder cancer and another doesn’t.
However, we do know that people with certain risk factors may be more likely than others to develop bladder cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of getting a disease.
Studies have found the following risk factors for bladder cancer:
- Smoking: Smoking tobacco is the most important risk factor for bladder cancer. Smoking causes most of the cases of bladder cancer. People who smoke for many years have a higher risk than nonsmokers or those who smoke for a short time.
How to Quit Tobacco
Quitting is important for anyone who uses tobacco. Quitting at any time is good for your health.
For people who already have bladder cancer, quitting may reduce the chance of getting another type of cancer (such as lung, esophagus, or oral cancer), lung disease, or heart disease caused by tobacco. Quitting can also help cancer treatments work better.
There are many ways to get help:
- Ask your doctor about medicine or nicotine replacement therapy. Your doctor can suggest a number of treatments that help people quit.
- Ask your doctor or dentist to help you find local programs or trained professionals who help people stop using tobacco.
- Call NCI’s Smoking Quitline at 1–877–44U–QUIT (1–877–448–7848) or instant message us through LiveHelp (https://livehelp.cancer.gov). We can tell you about:
- Ways to quit smoking
- Groups that help smokers who want to quit
- NCI publications about quitting smoking
- How to take part in a study of methods to help smokers quit
- Go online to Smokefree.gov (http://www. smokefree.gov), a Federal Government Web site. It offers a guide to quitting smoking and a list of other resources.
- Chemicals in the workplace: Some people have a higher risk of bladder cancer because of cancer-causing chemicals in their workplace. Workers in the dye, rubber, chemical, metal, textile, and leather industries may be at risk of bladder cancer. Also at risk are hairdressers, machinists, printers, painters, and truck drivers.
- Personal history of bladder cancer: People who have had bladder cancer have an increased risk of getting the disease again.
- Certain cancer treatments: People with cancer who have been treated with certain drugs (such as cyclophosphamide) may be at increased risk of bladder cancer. Also, people who have had radiation therapy to the abdomen or pelvis may be at increased risk.
- Arsenic: Arsenic is a poison that increases the risk of bladder cancer. In some areas of the world, arsenic may be found at high levels in drinking water. However, the United States has safety measures limiting the arsenic level in public drinking water.
- Family history of bladder cancer: People with family members who have bladder cancer have a slightly increased risk of the disease.
Many people who get bladder cancer have none of these risk factors, and many people who have known risk factors don’t develop the disease.