Risk Factors and Causes of Urethral Cancer

The cause of urethral cancer is unknown. The primary risk factor is a history of bladder cancer.

Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is also a risk factor. HPV is a group of more than 70 viruses that are transmitted sexually and cause anogenital warts.

Two types of HPV are associated with warts that develop on the mucous membrane of the urethra. Having unprotected sexual intercourse with multiple partners increases the risk for HPV infection.

Additional risk factors for urethral cancer include the following:

  • Age (over age 60)
  • Chronic irritation of the urethra (from childbirth, sexual intercourse)
  • Chronic urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Smoking (increases the risk for bladder cancer, which is a risk factor for urethral cancer)

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 28 Feb 2002

Last Modified: 13 Oct 2015