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Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine


Fact sheet

What is the bladder?
What is bladder cancer?
How common is bladder cancer?
Who is at risk of getting bladder cancer?
How do you lower your risk of bladder cancer?
What is the screening test?

What are the symptoms of bladder cancer?
Where can I find more information?



What is the bladder?
The bladder is a hollow, balloon-shaped organ that stores urine. It's made of flexible muscle that expands when it fills, and shrinks when it empties.

What is bladder cancer?
Bladder cancer occurs when cells in the bladder grow out of control. A group of abnormal cells together can form a malignant (cancerous) tumor.


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How common is bladder cancer?
About 67,000 Americans are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year. To compare this with other cancers, click here.

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Who is at risk of getting bladder cancer?
Anyone can get bladder cancer, but the risk goes up with age. The average age at diagnosis is 73.

Men are more likely to get bladder cancer than women. In fact, it's nearly three times more common in men than women. People with a family history of bladder cancer also have a higher risk.

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How do you lower your risk of bladder cancer?
  • Don't smoke.
  • Avoid arsenic-contaminated drinking water. If you use a drinking well, make sure you know the levels of arsenic in the water.
  • Avoid exposure to chemicals that can cause bladder cancer. Chemicals linked to bladder cancer include aromatic amines. They're used in the rubber, aluminum and textile industries.
Click here for a list of things that affect bladder cancer.

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What is the screening test?
There is no good screening test to find bladder cancer in its early stages. If you're concerned about bladder cancer, talk to a doctor about your risk. If your risk is high, a doctor may want you to get certain tests.

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What are the symptoms of bladder cancer?
The symptoms of bladder cancer may include:
  • Blood in your urine
  • The need to urinate often
  • Pain with urination
These symptoms can also be caused by something less serious. Only a doctor can know for sure. If you have any of these symptoms, talk to a doctor immediately.

For more information on bladder cancer, visit these web sites: For more information on arsenic in drinking water, visit: Back to top