People who suffer from a spinal cord injury are at greater risk of developing bladder cancer than those without injury. Patients with indwelling catheters have also been shown to be at greater risk of developing bladder cancer. There has been a question of whether the increased risk of cancer was related to the spinal cord injury itself, or the subsequent use of an indwelling catheter.
A medical research team from California recently conducted a retrospective study of spinal cord injury patients, both with and without an indwelling Foley catheter. They found that 32 out of the 1319 spinal cord injury patients they studied had developed bladder cancer, but that fewer than half of those had an indwelling catheter.
The team therefore suggested that spinal cord injury itself was an independent risk factor for bladder cancer. They suggested that more stringent cancer screens that include all patients with spinal cord injury, rather than only those with an indwelling catheter, should be considered.
Kalisvaart JF, Katsumi HK, Ronnington LD, & Hovey RM. Bladder cancer in spinal cord injury patients. Spinal Cord. (March 2010).