Bladder cancer

Bladder cancer graphicFind out more about bladder cancer, including how common it is and ways to reduce your risk.

On this page

> What is bladder cancer?
> Bladder cancer statistics
> Risk factors
> How to reduce your risk

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.

How common is bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer is the 10th most common cancer in the UK. In 2019, 10,515 cases of bladder cancer were diagnosed*. Bladder cancer is the 12th most common cancer among women and the 8th most common in men, in the UK.

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

> Smoking

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 Global Cancer Update Programme (CUP Global).

  • Don’t smoke

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

*Cancer statistics based on combined data from EnglandScotlandNorthern Ireland and Wales. World Cancer Research Fund, 2022.