Genome-wide Association Study of Bladder Cancer Reveals New Biological and Translational Insights

Eur Urol. 2023 Jul;84(1):127-137. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2023.04.020. Epub 2023 May 19.


Background: Genomic regions identified by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for bladder cancer risk provide new insights into etiology.

Objective: To identify new susceptibility variants for bladder cancer in a meta-analysis of new and existing genome-wide genotype data.

Design, setting, and participants: Data from 32 studies that includes 13,790 bladder cancer cases and 343,502 controls of European ancestry were used for meta-analysis.

Outcome measurements and statistical analyses: Log-additive associations of genetic variants were assessed using logistic regression models. A fixed-effects model was used for meta-analysis of the results. Stratified analyses were conducted to evaluate effect modification by sex and smoking status. A polygenic risk score (PRS) was generated on the basis of known and novel susceptibility variants and tested for interaction with smoking.

Results and limitations: Multiple novel bladder cancer susceptibility loci (6p.22.3, 7q36.3, 8q21.13, 9p21.3, 10q22.1, 19q13.33) as well as improved signals in three known regions (4p16.3, 5p15.33, 11p15.5) were identified, bringing the number of independent markers at genome-wide significance (p < 5 × 10-8) to 24. The 4p16.3 (FGFR3/TACC3) locus was associated with a stronger risk for women than for men (p-interaction = 0.002). Bladder cancer risk was increased by interactions between smoking status and genetic variants at 8p22 (NAT2; multiplicative p value for interaction [pM-I] = 0.004), 8q21.13 (PAG1; pM-I = 0.01), and 9p21.3 (LOC107987026/MTAP/CDKN2A; pM-I = 0.02). The PRS based on the 24 independent GWAS markers (odds ratio per standard deviation increase 1.49, 95% confidence interval 1.44-1.53), which also showed comparable results in two prospective cohorts (UK Biobank, PLCO trial), revealed an approximately fourfold difference in the lifetime risk of bladder cancer according to the PRS (e.g., 1st vs 10th decile) for both smokers and nonsmokers.

Conclusions: We report novel loci associated with risk of bladder cancer that provide clues to its biological underpinnings. Using 24 independent markers, we constructed a PRS to stratify lifetime risk. The PRS combined with smoking history, and other established risk factors, has the potential to inform future screening efforts for bladder cancer.

Patient summary: We identified new genetic markers that provide biological insights into the genetic causes of bladder cancer. These genetic risk factors combined with lifestyle risk factors, such as smoking, may inform future preventive and screening strategies for bladder cancer.

Keywords: Bladder cancer; Gene-environment interaction; Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS); Germline genetics.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Arylamine N-Acetyltransferase*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms* / genetics


  • NAT2 protein, human
  • Arylamine N-Acetyltransferase
  • TACC3 protein, human
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • PAG1 protein, human
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing