Understanding Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is the most common type of urothelial cancer, which can also arise in the renal pelvis, the ureters or the urethra. Bladder cancer develops when cells of the urinary bladder start to divide and grow more rapidly than usual. As more cancer cells are generated, they form a tumor, which can grow through the layers of the bladder and spread to other areas of the body. Bladder cancer is one of the most insidious types of cancer, as it is often discovered only by chance and at a stage when it is almost too late for successful treatment. Bladder cancer is the 10th most common cancer and the 13th most common cause of cancer death in the world. If detected early, bladder cancer has a chance of cure of over 90 %. Despite new discoveries and improvements in the care of people with bladder cancer, there's still a significant need for medical advancement in this area.


Every year, about 1,250 people in Switzerland are diagnosed with bladder cancer and about 560 die of it.


Around 550,000 new cases of bladder cancer were recorded worldwide in 2018, about 200,000 patients died of it.

Bladder cancer occurs mainly in older adults. Of those affected, about 75% are men and 25% are women.

Signs and Symptoms

Bladder cancer often causes no specific symptoms for a long time. Affected people may experience the following symptoms or signs:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Feeling the need to urinate, even if the bladder isn’t full
  • Having to get up to urinate many times throughout the night
  • Lower back pain on one side of the body

Bladder Cancer Risk Factors

One of the main risk factors is smoking. Experts estimate that about 30% to 70% of all bladder cancer cases result from smoking. Smokers are 4 to 7 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than nonsmokers.

Other Risk Factors for Bladder Cancer include:

  • AGE – being older than 65 years
  • GENDER – being male
  • CERTAIN CHEMICALS - frequent and prolonged contact
  • CHEMOTHERAPY/RADIOTHERAPY in the pelvic area
  • CHRONIC CYSTITIS - inflammation of the bladder
  • MEDICAL HISTORY - higher risk if someone has already had bladder cancer

Prevention of Bladder Cancer

There is no guarantee to prevent bladder cancer. But there are some factors that can help lower the risk.

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Limit exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace.
  • Drink plenty of liquids! Drinking a lot of fluids – mainly water – might lower the risk of bladder cancer.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.


It is the 5th most common cancer in Europe and the 8th most common cancer in Switzerland.

CH-NON-00572, 07/2020