Risk Factors for Bladder Cancer

A risk factor is something about you that increases your chance of getting a disease or having a certain health condition. Some risk factors for bladder cancer you cannot change, but some you can. Changing the risk factors that you have control over will help you live a longer, healthier life.

Risk factors do not mean that you will get the disease. Many people who have these risk factors do not develop the disease and many who develop the disease did not have any of these risk factors.

The risk factors for bladder cancer are:

  • Smoking — People who smoke are at significantly greater risk of developing bladder cancer.
  • Industrial exposure — The chemicals benzidine and beta-naphthylamine may increase the risk of developing bladder cancer.
  • Race/ethnicity — In the United States, bladder cancer is twice as common in whites than in African Americans or Hispanics.
  • Age — Bladder cancer is more common in people over the age of 55.
  • Gender — Bladder cancer is more common in men than in women.
  • Personal history — Previous history of cancer of the bladder, ureter, urethra or lining of your kidneys increases your risk of bladder cancer.

Genetics of Bladder Cancer

The precise cause of all bladder cancers is not known. While most cases of bladder cancer are sporadic, some are inherited or have a genetic basis. If bladder cancer is inherited, it’s usually seen in families with a number of members diagnosed with bladder and other types of cancer.

If you have a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, child) with bladder cancer, your risk is greater than the regular population for developing bladder cancer. You are at even greater risk if your relative was diagnosed before the age of 55.

If you are concerned that you or a member of your family may have a hereditary condition that may affect your chances of developing bladder cancer, ask your physician for a referral to the Scott & White Genetics Clinic for genetic counseling and possible genetic testing to determine if you have a genetic predisposition to the disease.

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