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What are the risk factors?

Research shows that people with certain risk factors are more likely to develop bladder cancer. Risk factors include:

Smoking – Cigarette smokers are up to three times more likely than non-smokers to develop bladder cancer.

Older age – About 90% of people diagnosed with bladder cancer in Australia are over 60.

Being male – Men are around three times more likely than women to develop bladder cancer.

Chemical exposure at work – Chemicals called aromatic amines, benzene products and aniline dyes are linked to bladder cancer. These chemicals are used in rubber and plastics manufacturing, in the dye industry, and sometimes in the work of painters, machinists, printers, hairdressers, firefighters and truck drivers.

Frequent infections – Squamous cell carcinoma of the bladder has been linked to urinary tract infections (including parasite infections, although these are very rare in Australia) and untreated bladder stones.

Long-term catheter use – Using urinary catheters over a long period may be linked with squamous cell carcinoma.

Previous cancer treatments – These include the chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide and radiation therapy to the pelvic area.

Diabetes treatment – The diabetes drug pioglitazone can increase the risk of bladder cancer.

Personal or family history – Having one or more close blood relatives diagnosed with bladder cancer, or having inherited a gene linked to bladder cancer, increases the risk of bladder cancer.

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This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed in February 2022 by the following expert content reviewers: Prof Dickon Hayne, Professor of Urology, UWA Medical School, The University of Western Australia, Chair of the Bladder, Urothelial and Penile Cancer Subcommittee, ANZUP Cancer Trials Group, and Head of Urology, South Metropolitan Health Service, WA; A/Prof Tom Shakespeare, Director, Radiation Oncology, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Lismore Public Hospitals, NSW; Helen Anderson, Genitourinary Cancer Nurse Navigator (CNS), Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; BEAT Bladder Cancer Australia; Mark Jenkin, Consumer; Dr Ganessan Kichenadasse, Lead, SA Cancer Clinical Network, Commission of Excellence and Innovation in Health, and Medical Oncologist, Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, SA; A/Prof James Lynam, Medical Oncology Staff Specialist, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Jack McDonald, Consumer; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Tara Redemski, Senior Physiotherapist – Cancer and Blood Disorders, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Prof Shomik Sengupta, Consultant Urologist, Eastern Health and Professor of Surgery, Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University, VIC.