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How Common is Bladder Cancer in Men?

In the United States, bladder cancer is a relatively common cancer among men.1-4 According to research by the National Cancer Institute, bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in men. The only cancers more common in American men than bladder cancer are prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer. The American Cancer society estimates that around 60,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2017. For men, the chance of developing bladder cancer is about 1 in 26.

Bladder cancer is much more common in men than it is in women. In fact, men in the United States are more than three times more likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer than women.

Differences based on age or 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 or Hispanic American men. White/Caucasian American men are around 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer than Asian American/Pacific Islander men. For every 100,000 people in the United States, around 38.1 White/Caucasian American men, 21 African American men, 19.3 Hispanic American men, and 15.2 Asian American/Pacific Islander men are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year.

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 bladder cancer is diagnosed most often in American men who are between the ages of 75 and 84 years old.

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 are the causes?

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.1,2 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.

However, 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?

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 tends to be more effective for bladder cancer the earlier it is found.

How is it treated?

For many men, treatment for bladder cancer can be very effective.1,2 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 often involves surgery called transurethral resection, 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.

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. 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.

Written by Anna Nicholson | Last review date: September 2017.
  1. Cancer Facts & Figures 2017. American Cancer Society.
  2. Bladder cancer: Men at risk. Harvard Health Publications. Published April 2011. Accessed September 2017.
  3. Bladder Cancer. Medscape. Accessed September 2017.
  4. Cancer of the Urinary Bladder. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, National Cancer Institue, Accessed September 2017.