How Common is Bladder Cancer in Men?
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last review date: November 2019. | Last updated: September 2021
In the United States, bladder cancer is a relatively common cancer among men. The only cancers more common in American men than bladder cancer are prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer, making it the fourth most common cancer in men.1,2 The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2019, approximately 61,700 new diagnoses of bladder cancer will occur in men, and about 12,870 men will die from the disease.2
Bladder cancer is much more common in men than it is in women. In fact, men in the United States are nearly four times more likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer than women.1 Approximately 1 in 27 men in the United States will develop bladder cancer in their lifetime.2
Differences based on age and ethnicity
Men of certain ethnic backgrounds are also more likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer than others in the United States. White/Caucasian American men are around twice as likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer than African American men.1 For every 100,000 people in the United States, around 38.5 White/Caucasian American men, 19.7 African American men, 19.5 Hispanic American men, and 15.5 Asian American/Pacific Islander men are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year.3
Bladder cancer is also much more common among older men in the United States. Men are much more likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer when they are over the age of 55 years old, and the average age of diagnosis is 73.2
Researchers are still not sure why men are more likely to get bladder cancer than women in the United States, or why White/Caucasian American men are more likely to get bladder cancer than men of other ethnic backgrounds. However, studies are being carried out to understand more about these trends.
What causes bladder cancer?
Like other cancers, bladder cancer develops when a change happens inside the DNA of certain cells that causes them to grow uncontrollably and gather together to form tumors.1,4 Researchers think that some men may carry a gene in their DNA, which is passed down through families, that makes their healthy cells more likely to change into cancer cells.
There are also risk factors that can make certain men more likely to develop bladder cancer. For example, men who smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products are much more likely to get bladder cancer than men who don’t. One of the best ways to reduce your risk is to never smoke, or to stop smoking now if you already do. Being exposed to other types of harmful substances, called toxins, can also increase your risk of getting bladder cancer. These include certain types of processed paint, metal, dyes, and petroleum products that contain dangerous chemicals.
What are the symptoms of bladder cancer?
The most common symptom of bladder cancer is visible blood in the urine.1 Other common symptoms are frequent, urgent, or painful urination. These symptoms are not always caused by bladder cancer, but it is important to speak with your healthcare provider if you experience them. Treatment is typically more effective for bladder cancer when it’s in its earliest stages.
How is bladder cancer treated in men?
For many men, treatment for bladder cancer can be very effective. This is especially true for men who have bladder cancer that is in the lining of the bladder and has not grown into the muscles in the walls of the bladder. This is called non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer.
Treatment for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer
Treatment for non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer often involves surgery called transurethral resection of a bladder tumor (TURBT), in which the surgeon removes the tumor in the bladder using a very thin, flexible instrument that is inserted into the bladder through the urethra. The urethra is the hollow tube through which urine flows from the bladder and out through the penis. Some men may need to have intravesical chemotherapy (chemotherapy injected directly into the bladder) after surgery to reduce the chance that any remaining bladder cancer cells will start growing again.
Treatment for muscle-invasive bladder cancer
Some men are diagnosed with bladder cancer that has spread from the lining of the bladder and into the muscles in the walls of the bladder—this is called muscle-invasive bladder cancer. This type of bladder cancer may need to be treated with different types of surgery, as well as chemotherapy. In a surgery called partial cystectomy, the surgeon removes the part of the bladder affected by cancer. In a surgery called radical cystectomy, surgeon removes the entire bladder as well nearby lymph nodes and some of the organs in the surrounding areas, such as the prostate and seminal vesicles.1 Then the surgeon can create a new way for urine to be stored and removed from the body. Other types of treatments for muscle-invasive bladder cancer include radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy to help kill the cancer cells and keep them from growing back.
For some patients with a genetic mutation found in some bladder cancers (FGFR), targeted therapy may be an option. The drug Balversa (generic name erdafitinib) was approved in April 2019 to treat certain bladder cancers.5 This medication works by focusing on cells with certain genetic changes, making it more specialized and targeted, helping to minimize damage to other cells and increasing effectiveness.