Bladder cancer refers to the uncontrolled cell growth that begins in the bladder.
This happens when an abnormal change (a mutation) in the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) causes the DNA to malfunction. The DNA is the one that instructs the cells when to divide, grow, or die. If the DNA present in the cells of the bladder malfunctions, cells go on dividing and growing excessively, and they fail to die at the expected rate. This causes a build-up of cells in the bladder that leads to harmful (malignant) bladder cancer.
What exactly causes bladder cancer is unknown. But certain factors have been seen to increase your risk of developing it. These include:
Men are more likely to develop bladder cancer than women.
The risk of bladder cancer increases with age, especially after 55 years. More than 70 percent of people diagnosed with bladder cancer are older than 65 years.
White people have twice the risk of developing bladder cancer as Black people. But if Black people get diagnosed with bladder cancer, they have double the chances of cancer becoming deadly.
When you smoke cigarettes or cigars that contain nicotine, some amount of nicotine is also excreted in the urine. When this urine passes through the bladder, the nicotine can irritate the bladder, cause inflammation, and increase your chances of getting bladder cancer by four to seven times.
Contact with certain chemicals
Exposure to chemicals such as arsenic in drinking water has been linked to bladder cancer. Exposure depends on where you live and the water source. Certain chemicals used in the manufacture of dyes, leather, rubber, textiles, and paint products can also increase your risk of bladder cancer.
Chronic bladder infection
- Chronic urinary infections (such as cystitis)
- Schistosomiasis (a parasitic infection)
Previous cancer therapy
Certain cancer medications such as cyclophosphamide and radiation therapy that target the pelvic region make you more likely to get bladder cancer.
Personal or family history of cancer
If you had bladder cancer in the past, you are likely to get it again. Having someone in the family affected with bladder cancer may also make you at risk for the disease. However, the chances are rare with this risk factor.
Lynch syndrome, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), can increase the risk of cancer in the urinary system. A family history of Lynch syndrome can also make you more likely to get bladder cancer. Other organs where cancer can develop include the colon, uterus, and ovaries.