There are certain things that can affect the chances of developing bladder cancer. These are called risk factors.
Smoking may cause about 4 in 10 (40%) bladder cancers. Chemicals that can cause bladder cancer are found in cigarette smoke. These chemicals eventually go into the pee (urine) through the blood. They can damage the cells that line the bladder. Over many years, this may cause bladder cancer.
The longer a person smokes for and the more they smoke, the greater the risk.
These include chemicals previously used in dye factories and industries such as:
- plastic and paint.
Many of these chemicals are now banned. But it can take more than 25 years after exposure to them for bladder cancer to develop.
You may be able to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit if you think chemicals at your work may have caused the cancer. The Department for Work and Pensions has more information about this benefit. If you live in Northern Ireland, visit nidirect.gov.uk.
Repeated urinary infections and untreated bladder stones are linked to a less common type of bladder cancer called squamous cell cancer.
People who are paralysed because of an injury to their spinal cord can have more bladder infections. They may have a higher risk of developing bladder cancer.
An untreated infection called schistosomiasis, which is caused by a worm (parasite) that lives in fresh water, may cause bladder cancer. The parasite is found in Africa, but also lives in parts of the Middle East. This infection is rare in the UK.
Diabetes has been linked to an increased risk of developing bladder cancer. A drug called pioglitazone is likely to be the cause of this. Other medicines for diabetes are not linked to bladder cancer.
If you have a close relative who has had bladder cancer, you may have a slightly higher chance of developing it. This could be because people in the same family may share certain risk factors, such as smoking.
Bladder cancer is not infectious and cannot be passed on to other people.