Environmental Public Health Tracking: Bladder Cancer Data

Cancer is a term used for diseases where abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. Cancer is not just one disease, but many diseases. There are more than 100 different types of cancer.

Bladder cancer is one type of cancer. Review the FAQs below for more information about bladder cancer.

Access the bladder cancer data

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What is bladder cancer?

The bladder is the organ in the body that stores urine before it leaves the body. The inside of the bladder is lined with a layer of cells called urothelial cells. The same type of cell also lines the kidneys, the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder (ureters), and the tube which carries urine out of the body (urethra), which are all part of the urinary system. Cancer can begin in any of these lining cells. As the cancer grows deeper into the layers of the wall of the bladder, it becomes harder to treat.

Who is at-risk for bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer is more common among older persons, men, and people who are white.

Studies show that workers in the trucking, dye, rubber, textile, leather, and chemical industries have a higher risk for bladder cancer. About 5%-25% of bladder cancers among men and 8%-11% among women are associated with occupational exposures.

The number of new cases of bladder cancer varies geographically with higher rates in the northeastern United States. Known risk factors such as smoking and occupational exposures do not explain the changes we see by geography, suggesting there is an unknown risk factor related to these geographic variations.

How is bladder cancer related to the environment?

There are many environmental risk factors for bladder cancer. Smoking is the greatest risk factor associated with bladder cancer. Persons who smoke have more than twice the risk for bladder cancer than non-smokers.

Ingestion of high levels of inorganic arsenic can cause cancer. Extensive research has been done about the relationship between bladder cancer and drinking water contamination.  Researchers found high levels of arsenic in drinking water causes cancer. The effect of low-to-moderate arsenic levels in drinking water is less clear.

Long-term exposure to disinfection byproducts in drinking water may also cause a small increase in the risk for bladder cancer. Disinfection by-products are a family of chemicals formed when drinking water cleaners react with naturally occurring organic matter in the source water. These cleaners are commonly used by public water suppliers to kill viruses and bacteria in the water.

Is bladder cancer preventable?

You can reduce your risk for bladder cancer by not smoking. The risk for bladder cancer eventually returns to normal if a smoker quits smoking.

Workers in some industries, like trucking, dye, rubber, textile, leather and chemical industries, have a higher risk for bladder cancer. To reduce risk in these workplaces, workers should follow all health and safety rules, such as wearing approved and appropriate personal protective equipment.

Where can I learn more about bladder cancer?

Last Revised: May 2, 2018