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Bladder Cancer Prevention and Screening

Bladder Cancer Screening

Cancer screening exams are important medical tests done when you’re at risk but don’t have symptoms. They help find cancer at its earliest stage, when the chances for successful treatment are highest.

When bladder cancer is found in the early stages, it has a much higher rate of successful treatment. If you are at high risk for bladder cancer, talk to your doctor about screening tests, which may include cystoscopy, imaging tests, or blood and urine tests.

People considered at high risk for bladder cancer are at least 50 years old with hematuria (blood in the urine), or under age 50 with visible hematuria. 

Bladder Cancer Risk Factors

Anything that increases your chance of getting bladder cancer is a risk factor. These include:

  • Smoking tobacco: This is the greatest risk factor for bladder cancer. Smokers, including pipe and cigar smokers, are two to three times more likely than nonsmokers to get bladder cancer. Chemicals in tobacco smoke are absorbed into the blood, and then they pass through the kidneys and collect in the urine. These chemicals can damage the inside of the bladder and increase your chances of getting bladder cancer. Read more about MD Anderson’s smoking cessation clinical trials 
  • Age: The chance of developing bladder cancer increases with age, and it is uncommon in people under 40
  • Race: Bladder cancer occurs twice as often in Caucasians as it does in African-Americans and Hispanics. Asians have the lowest rate of developing the disease
  • Gender: Men are up to four times as likely as women to get bladder cancer
  • Personal history of bladder cancer: Bladder cancer has a 50% to 80% chance of returning after treatment. This is the highest of any cancer, including skin cancer
  • Exposure to chemicals: People who work around certain chemicals are more likely to get bladder cancer. These include:
    • People who work in the rubber, chemical and leather industries
    • Hairdressers
    • Machinists and metal workers
    • Printers
    • Painters
    • Textile workers
    • Truck drivers
    • People who work at dry cleaners
  • Infections: People infected with certain parasites, which are more common in tropical climates, have an increased risk of bladder cancer
  • Treatment with cyclophosphamide or arsenic: These drugs, which are used in the treatment of cancer and other conditions, raise the risk of bladder cancer. Arsenic in drinking water may increase risk too. 
  • Chronic bladder problems: Infections and kidney stones may be risk factors, but no direct link has been established
  • History of taking a fangchi, a Chinese herb
  • Having a kidney transplant
  • Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC, also called Lynch syndrome)

Not everyone with risk factors gets bladder cancer. However, if you have risk factors, it’s a good idea to discuss them with your doctor.

If you have been diagnosed with bladder cancer, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • Innovative bladder cancer treatments including gene therapy, immunotherapy and chemotherapy
  • Minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic procedures to treat bladder cancer
  • Advanced reconstruction techniques
  • Highly skilled and experienced surgeons
  • Nationally recognized research program offers clinical trials of new bladder cancer therapies

Bladder Cancer Knowledge Center

Treatment at MD Anderson

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Bladder Cancer Prevention

The most important thing you can do to prevent bladder cancer is to not smoke. Read more about MD Anderson’s smoking cessation clinical trials. It’s also a good idea to avoid dangerous chemicals and follow safe work habits if you work in a high-risk field.

Research shows that many cancers can be prevented. Visit the Prevention section of our website to find out steps you can take to avoid cancer.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center