Bladder Cancer Causes, Symptoms, and Signs

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD

Cancer of the urinary bladder develops in over 70,000 Americans each year, leading to over 14,000 deaths. According to the American Cancer Society, the chance of a man developing this cancer at any time during his life is about one in 30; for a woman, the chance is one in 90. Since bladder cancer that is detected in the early stages has a good chance of cure, awareness of the signs and symptoms of this malignancy are critical. Anyone experiencing the signs or symptoms of bladder cancer should be checked by a urologist, who can perform tests to diagnose bladder cancer even in its early stages.

The cause of bladder cancer is not understood, but certain risk factors are known to increase an individual's risk of getting bladder cancer. Men are about three times more likely than women to develop bladder cancer, and older people are more likely to be affected. Up to 90% of those affected are over 55 years of age. Smokers are at an increased risk for development of bladder cancer. Exposure to certain chemicals used in manufacturing and industry (including paints and paint thinners, some hairdressing supplies, and certain dyes) are associated with a higher risk of bladder cancer, so people who work in certain occupations (workers in the rubber, chemical, and leather industries; hairdressers; machinists; metal workers; printers; painters; textile workers; and truck drivers) are at increased risk. Being infected with certain parasites that are common in tropical areas also increases the risk for bladder cancer.