Second Cancers After Bladder Cancer

Cancer survivors can be affected by a number of health problems, but often a major concern is facing cancer again. If a cancer comes back after treatment it's called a recurrence. But some cancer survivors may develop a new, unrelated cancer later. This is called a second cancer.

Being treated for bladder cancer doesn’t mean you can’t get another cancer. Survivors of bladder cancer can get any type of second cancer, but they have an increased risk these cancers compared to the general population:

Many of these cancers have been clearly linked to smoking, which is also a major risk factor for bladder cancer. Talk to your doctor if you need help to quit smoking.

Follow-up after bladder cancer treatment

After completing treatment for bladder cancer, you should see your doctor regularly. Let them know about any new symptoms or problems, because they could be caused by the cancer coming back, a new disease, or a second cancer.

Bladder cancer survivors should also follow the American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer, such as those for colorectal and lung cancer. Most experts don’t recommend any other testing to look for second cancers unless you have symptoms. Again, this means it's important to tell your doctors about any changes you notice.

Can I lower my risk of getting a second cancer?

There are steps you can take to lower your risk and stay as healthy as possible. One of the most important you can do is quit using any form of tobacco and stay away from tobacco smoke. Smoking increases the risk of a lot of the second cancers seen after bladder cancer, as well as many other cancers.

To help maintain good health, bladder cancer survivors should also:

  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight.
  • Keep physically active and limit the time you spend sitting or lying down.
  • Follow a healthy eating pattern that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limits or avoids red and processed meats, sugary drinks, and highly processed foods.
  • It's best not to drink alcohol. If you do drink, have no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men.

These steps may also help lower the risk of other health problems.

See Second Cancers in Adults for more information about causes of second cancers.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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Donin N, Filson C, Drakaki A, et al. Risk of second primary malignancies among cancer survivors in the United States, 1992 through 2008. Cancer. 2016;122(19):3075-3086.

Khanal A, Budhathoki N, Singh VP, Shah BK. Second Primary Malignancy in Bladder Carcinoma - A Population-based Study. Anticancer Res. 2017;37(4):2033-2036.

Rock CL, Thomson C, Gansler T, et al. American Cancer Society guideline for diet and physical activity for cancer prevention. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2020;70(4). doi:10.3322/caac.21591. Accessed at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21591 on June 9, 2020.

 

 

Last Revised: June 9, 2020

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