Bladder CancerBladder Cancer Causes

Let's Talk About Bladder Cancer Causes

We've got the doctor-approved scoop on bladder cancer causes and risk factors, including lifestyle choices, family history, genetics, and more.

    Our Pro PanelBladder Cancer Causes

    We went to some of the nation’s top experts in bladder cancer to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Hooman Djaladat, M.D. headshot.

    Hooman Djaladat, M.D.Urologic Oncologist and Associate Professor of Clinical Urology

    University of Southern California Institute of Urology
    Los Angeles
    Philippe Spiess, M.D. headshot.

    Philippe Spiess, M.D.Genitourinary Oncologist and Assistant Chief of Surgical Services

    Moffitt Cancer Center
    Tampa, FL
    Gary Steinberg, M.D. headshot.

    Gary Steinberg, M.D.Urologic Oncologist and Bladder Cancer Surgeon

    NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center
    New York City

    Frequently Asked QuestionsBladder Cancer Causes

    What is the biggest risk factor for bladder cancer?

    Without a doubt, smoking. Smoking increases your risk four- to six times, and some studies have shown that 50% of bladder cancer patients were smokers or former smokers. Your odds go up the more you smoke, but even social smokers increase their risk.

    What are my chances of getting bladder cancer?

    If you’re a guy, you have a 1 in 27 chance. Women have 1 in 89 odds. But every person’s chances depend on their family history, genes, and lifestyle (especially when it comes to smoking). Bladder cancer is definitely an older person’s disease, though. Roughly 90% of people diagnosed are over age 55.

    Will dyeing my hair give me bladder cancer?

    Probably not. While there have been some studies that showed a link between hair coloring and bladder cancer, most studies, including reviews of previous research, have found no such risk, even for brunettes using strong permanent dyes for years. The fear probably comes from older data showing that male hairdressers had a chance of developing bladder cancer, perhaps because hair dyes in the 1970s and 80s contained cancer-causing chemicals that have since been banned.

    How can doctors tell if I have bladder cancer?

    First, they’ll rule out bacterial infections or kidney stones if you find blood in your pee by taking a urine culture. Then you may have a CT-scan or ultrasound of your bladder as well as a cystoscopy. Both tests check for tumors, but during a cystoscopy, a doctor puts a probe up your urethra and into your bladder to check for tumors. Yes, it hurts but they give you a local anesthetic to dull the pain. And it’s mercifully short—ten minutes or so and you’re done.

    Linda Rodgers

    Linda Rodgers


    Linda Rodgers is a former magazine and digital editor turned writer, focusing on health and wellness.