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Bladder Cancer

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Bladder cancer usually occurs within the lining of the bladder, which stores the body’s urine, and can grow into the bladder wall. The exact causes of bladder cancer are unknown. Some of the symptoms for bladder cancer are quite similar to other non-cancer related illnesses, which can make bladder cancer difficult to diagnose. If detected early and treated, the five-year survival rate for bladder cancer for noninvasive cancer is 98 percent and 71 percent for invasive tumors.


  • In 2013, 72,570 new cases of bladder cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the United States.
  • Approximately 15,210 Americans are expected to die from bladder cancer in 2013.
  • More than 3,962 Texans are expected to be diagnosed with bladder cancer and an estimated 844 will die from the disease this year.
  • The incidence of bladder cancer is nearly twice as high in Caucasians as in African Americans.

Risk Factors 

  • Age: The risk of developing bladder cancer increases with age. Almost nine out of 10 of those diagnosed are over the age of 55.
  • Family History: People with a family history of bladder cancer are at greater risk of developing the disease. Researchers believe bladder cancer can be genetic.
  • Personal History: Those who have had bladder cancer in the past are at an increased risk of recurrence.
  • Gender: Men are three to four times more likely than women to develop bladder cancer.
  • Tobacco: Risk of bladder cancer among smokers is approximately three times that of nonsmokers. About half of all bladder cancer cases are caused by smoking.
  • Chemical Exposure: People who work with certain chemicals or in certain industries are at higher risk for developing bladder cancer. Industry examples include dye, ether, paint, printing, and rubber. Individuals with exposure to high levels of arsenic in their drinking water are also at a greater risk, as are those exposed to the chemo drug cyclophosphamide.
  • Parasites: People infected with certain kinds of parasites face a higher risk.


The following may be symptoms of bladder cancer, but could be linked to other health conditions:

  • Blood in the urine; urine may appear slightly red or rusty in color
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Frequent urination or feeling the need to urinate without being able to produce urine


While there is no definite prevention method, people should follow these guidelines:

  • Practice safety precautions if you work with certain chemicals that have been linked to a higher bladder cancer incidence
  • Stop smoking
  • Eating a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and consuming plenty of liquids may decrease risk.

Treatment Options 

Bladder cancer, depending on the stage, may be treated by different members of the cancer care team – urologists, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists. Treatment options vary depending on how advanced the cancer is and if it has spread to other parts of the body. Physicians will determine the most appropriate treatment for each patient, but in 90 percent of cases will perform surgery alone or in combination with other treatments, such as radiation, immunotherapy, or chemotherapy.

Sources: American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, and Texas Cancer Registry