Explaining the Link Between Smoking and Bladder Cancer

Paul Hackbarth
Phelps Health
Phelps Health Urologist Joel Leon Becerril, MD

Did you know that people who smoke cigarettes are at a higher risk to get bladder cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, smokers are nearly three times as likely to get bladder cancer as non-smokers. In fact, smoking causes about half of all cases of bladder cancer in men and women.

The risk is greater because the chemicals in tobacco smoke can end up in your urine. These harmful chemicals can damage your bladder’s lining and increase your risk for bladder cancer.

Urothelial carcinoma, which can be found in the cells that line the inside of the bladder, is the most common type of bladder cancer. Other types of bladder cancer exist, but they are rare.

“For some people, we don’t know why they develop cancer,” said Joel Leon Becerril, MD, a urologist with the Phelps Health Medical Group.

However, smoking or exposure to certain industrial dyes can raise your risk of getting bladder cancer.

Bladder cancer is more common in men than women. In fact, bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men.

Most patients diagnosed with bladder cancer are over the age of 55. Though bladder cancer can be found in younger patients, too.

Blood in the urine with no pain is usually the first sign of bladder cancer. Having frequent urges to urinate, discomfort while urinating and urinating often are other symptoms of bladder cancer.

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your primary care doctor or provider, or contact the Urology Clinic at Phelps Health.

You can take steps to reduce your risk of getting bladder cancer. The best thing you can do is not smoke, or if you do smoke, stop.

“It’s never too late to quit smoking,” Dr. Leon Becerril said. “Bladder cancer is a manageable disease as long as it’s diagnosed during early stages.”

To learn more about bladder cancer and urology services at Phelps Health, call (573) 458-3150 or visit phelpshealth.org.