Bladder cancer

Bladder cancer is the ninth most common cancer in the UK. In 2013, 10,327 cases of bladder cancer were diagnosed.

What is bladder cancer?

The bladder is located in the pelvis behind the pubic bone and its main function is to collect urine produced by the kidneys. It is a sac-like organ with muscular walls that can stretch to hold about 500ml of urine. When we empty our bladder, the muscle in its walls contract and the urine passes from the bladder into a short tube called the urethra that carries urine out of the body.

Bladder cancer commonly starts as an abnormal growth in the lining of the bladder. A cancerous tumour can sometimes spread into the muscle layer of the bladder wall.

Who is most at risk of bladder cancer?

There are many different reasons why bladder cancer develops, and this varies from person to person.

Lifestyle risk factors

Other risk factors

  • Age – older people are at a higher risk
  • Gender – men are over four times more likely to develop bladder cancer than women
  • Occupational exposure – eg from precision metalworking. See section 4 of our report on bladder cancer for more information

How can you reduce your risk of bladder cancer?

The good news is that you can make diet and lifestyle choices that can lower your risk of bladder cancer. These steps are based on research from our Continuous Update Project (CUP).

  • Don’t smoke

If you do smoke, stopping smoking will reduce your risk. The NHS stop smoking service can help you quit.

Emerging research

  • Vegetables and fruit

There is some evidence that suggests eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruit may decrease the risk of bladder cancer, but more research needs to be carried out before we can make any specific recommendations for bladder cancer prevention.

Find out why eating well is important for a healthier future.

  • Tea

Drinking tea may decrease the risk of bladder cancer, but more research needs to be carried out before we can make any specific recommendations for bladder cancer prevention.

Visit NHS Choices to find out about the symptoms and treatments of bladder cancer.

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