Bladder Cancer Risk Factors

Risk factors are anything that increase your chance of developing cancer. Some risk factors, like lifestyle choices, can be changed. Other risk factors, like your age, cannot. Understanding your risk factors for developing bladder cancer, and talking about them with your doctor, may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.

There are several risk factors associated with bladder cancer, which include: 

  • Tobacco use. Using tobacco, especially smoking cigarettes, is a major risk factor for bladder cancer. Smokers are 4 to 7 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than nonsmokers. 
  • Age. Bladder cancer can be diagnosed at any age, but the risk increases as a person gets older. More than 70% of people with bladder cancer are older than 65.
  • Chronic bladder problems. Bladder stones and infections may increase the risk of bladder cancer. Bladder cancer may be more common for people who are paralyzed from the waist down who are required to use urinary catheters and have had many urinary infections.
  • Gender and race. Bladder cancer occurs more often in men than in women, and more often in white individuals than in black individuals.
  • Genetics. People with an inherited condition called Lynch syndrome or other genetic predisposition may have an increased risk of developing bladder cancer.
  • Chemical exposure. Chemicals in paints, dyes, metals, or petroleum products increase the risk of bladder cancer, as well as excessive exposure to some naturally-occurring substances, such as arsenic. 
  • Health history. A personal or family history of bladder cancer puts you at a greater chance of developing the disease. 
  • Previous cancer treatments. Patients who had past treatment with radiation therapy to the pelvis or chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide or ifosfamide have a higher risk of developing bladder cancer.
  • Schistosomiasis. Having a bladder infection caused by a parasite called Schistosoma can increase your risk of developing squamous cell bladder cancer. 

Learn more about the symptoms of bladder cancer.