Q | am i at risk of getting bladder cancer?
A | Bladder cancer is the 5th commonest cancer in men and 10th commonest in women. In total more than 11 000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year. Some known risk factors are as follows:
- Age: bladder cancer tends to affect an older age group and the average age at diagnosis is around 65.
- Sex: bladder cancer is more common in men compared to women. The ratio is around 3:1. This may be due to smoking and industrial exposure (see below).
- Cigarette smoking: smoking increases your risk of getting bladder cancer. Some of the additives in cigarettes can cause bladder cancer. The risk of developing bladder cancer if you smoke is 2-3 times higher than in people who don't smoke.
- Occupational exposure: specific chemicals have been identified that are associated with an increased risk of developing bladder cancer. These include chemicals used in the dye and rubber industry, long-term exposure to some hair dyes and workers in the petroleum and PVC industries.
- Family history of bladder cancer: several genes have been identified as being important in the development of bladder cancer.
- Cyclophoshamide: this is used in some chemotherapy treatments and has been associated with bladder cancer.
- Chronic bladder inflammation: if the bladder is chronically irritated (for instance, recurrent urinary tract infections, bladder stones or long term catheterization) bladder cancer can occasionally develop.
- This is usually a Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) which is more common in skin cancers, again due to chronic irritation.