Bladder Cancer Awareness Month: Let’s Talk Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Support

May 18, 2021
A smiling elderly man holds his granddaughter outside near sunlit trees


As we continue into May, we’d like to highlight Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. Bladder cancer is the fourth most commonly occurring cancer in men. According to the American Cancer Society, the chance of developing bladder cancer is about 1 in 27 for men. The chance is about 1 in 89 for women. 

Bladder cancer occurs when the cells in the bladder—like the cells in other parts of your body—grow and divide. If a normal cell collects too many genetic errors, it can turn into a cancer cell. As the cancer cell grows and divides, it will begin to form a tumor. This can cause bleeding or affect how your bladder functions.


Risk Factors

There are some risk factors for bladder cancer that you cannot control. These include:

  • being male
  • getting older
  • a family history of bladder cancer
  • having birth defects in the bladder or urinary tract

Other risk factors include smoking and exposure to chemicals at work or in the environment.

Another risk factor is bladder irritation caused by:

  • kidney and bladder stones
  • inflammation and infections
  • long-term catheter use
  • having had radiation to treat another type of cancer

The average age of diagnosis for bladder cancer is 73. 

—American Cancer Society

Signs & Symptoms

Some common symptoms of bladder cancer include:

  • blood in your urine
  • pain when you urinate
  • having to urinate more often than usual

However, these symptoms can also be signs of bladder problems that aren’t cancerous. If you have these symptoms, make sure to see your doctor.

Bladder Cancer Resources and Support

If you are living with bladder cancer or are a caregiver to someone with bladder cancer, the Cancer Support Community offers a variety of resources to help ease the burden of your journey.

  • Visit our Bladder Cancer webpage for information about the disease, including testing, treatment options to help you make informed decisions, and how to cope. You'll also find information about survivorship and caregiver support.
  • Connect with our Cancer Support Helpline by phone or online via our live chat service. Our experienced Helpline staff are here to offer free navigation for cancer patients or their loved ones.
  • Create a private support website where you can document your journey and receive support from friends and family along the way.

Bladder cancer survivor Liz Hiles shares her story


The Cancer Support Community believes that community is stronger than cancer. We are a relentless ally for anyone who strives to manage the realities of this disruptive disease, so that no one faces cancer alone. Be sure to check our blog section often as we share more news, stories, and inspiration to help support you on your journey.