Epidemiology of Bladder Cancer in 2023: A Systematic Review of Risk Factors

Eur Urol. 2023 May 15;S0302-2838(23)02707-0. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2023.03.029. Online ahead of print.


Context: Bladder cancer (BC) is common worldwide and poses a significant public health challenge. External risk factors and the wider exposome (totality of exposure from external and internal factors) contribute significantly to the development of BC. Therefore, establishing a clear understanding of these risk factors is the key to prevention.

Objective: To perform an up-to-date systematic review of BC's epidemiology and external risk factors.

Evidence acquisition: Two reviewers (I.J. and S.O.) performed a systematic review using PubMed and Embase in January 2022 and updated it in September 2022. The search was restricted to 4 yr since our previous review in 2018.

Evidence synthesis: Our search identified 5177 articles and a total of 349 full-text manuscripts. GLOBOCAN data from 2020 revealed an incidence of 573 000 new BC cases and 213 000 deaths worldwide in 2020. The 5-yr prevalence worldwide in 2020 was 1 721 000. Tobacco smoking and occupational exposures (aromatic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are the most substantial risk factors. In addition, correlative evidence exists for several risk factors, including specific dietary factors, imbalanced microbiome, gene-environment risk factor interactions, diesel exhaust emission exposure, and pelvic radiotherapy.

Conclusions: We present a contemporary overview of the epidemiology of BC and the current evidence for BC risk factors. Smoking and specific occupational exposures are the most established risk factors. There is emerging evidence for specific dietary factors, imbalanced microbiome, gene-external risk factor interactions, diesel exhaust emission exposure, and pelvic radiotherapy. Further high-quality evidence is required to confirm initial findings and further understand cancer prevention.

Patient summary: Bladder cancer is common, and the most substantial risk factors are smoking and workplace exposure to suspected carcinogens. On-going research to identify avoidable risk factors could reduce the number of people who get bladder cancer.

Keywords: Bladder cancer; Epidemiology; Incidence; Prevalence; Risk factors.

Publication types

  • Review