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 is called a recurrence. But some cancer survivors may develop a new, unrelated cancer later. This is called a second cancer.
Unfortunately, being treated for bladder cancer doesn’t mean you can’t get another cancer. People who have had bladder cancer can still get the same types of cancers that other people get. In fact, they might be at higher risk for certain types of cancer.
Survivors of bladder cancer can get any type of second cancer, but they have an increased risk of certain cancers, including:
- A second bladder cancer (This is different from the first cancer coming back.)
- Cancer of the renal pelvis/ureter (the ureter is the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder; the part of the kidney where it attaches is called the renal pelvis)
- Cancer of the pancreas
- Cancer of the larynx (voice box)
- Lung cancer
- Vaginal cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
Many of these cancers are linked to smoking, which is a major risk factor for bladder cancer.
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 or by a new disease or 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.
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. For example, it’s important to stay away from tobacco products. Smoking increases the risk of some 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
- Stay physically active
- Eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods
- Limit alcohol to no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men
These steps may also lower the risk of some other health problems.
See Second Cancers in Adults for more information about causes of second cancers.
Last Medical Review: January 26, 2016 Last Revised: May 23, 2016