The Signs & Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

If you have developed bladder cancer, there are a number of symptoms that you could experience. However, there are some cases where this cancer produces no noticeable symptoms. Also, it is possible that these or similar symptoms are the result of another medical condition and not bladder cancer. In general, this disease does not produce symptoms that are specific to cancer. A lot of patients are encouraged to enroll in a bladder cancer clinical trial.

Presence of Blood in Urine

More often than not, bladder cancer is diagnosed after a person has visited their doctor due to the presence of blood in their urine (hematuria). However, it is possible for such a minute amount of blood to be present in the urine, that it won’t be visible to the naked eye. A urine test will be able to detect any level of blood that is present. It is also important to note that the presence of blood in the urine does not automatically mean that you have bladder cancer. In fact, this could be a symptom caused by a bladder infection, kidney stone, or a kidney injury.

Since hematuria on its own is not specific to bladder cancer, doctors do not use general urine tests to diagnose bladder cancer. On the other hand, there is a special type of urine test (cytology) that can help to identify the presence of cancer. This test involves looking at a urine sample under the microscope to determine if there are any cancerous cells present (please see bladder cancer diagnosis).

Common Indications of Bladder Cancer

If you or a loved one have experienced any of the following indications, then please call your doctor right away:

  • Pain while urinating
  • Hematuria (presence of blood in the urine)
  • Frequent urination or incontinence
  • Getting up to urinate frequently throughout the night
  • Needing to urinate, but not able to pass any urine
  • Low back pain on one side of the body

The symptoms associated with advanced stage bladder cancer can include unexplained loss of appetite, pain, and unexplained weight loss. In fact, it is not uncommon for the cancer to have already metastasized or begun to spread to other areas of the body by the time the first symptoms begin to manifest. In some cases, a serious case of coughing could be the result of cancer that originated in the patient’s bladder but has already spread to the lungs. At this point, treatment options available for bladder cancer have become much more limited, so many patients are encouraged to enroll in a bladder cancer clinical trial.

When you go in to visit your doctor, they will ask you to describe the symptoms that you have been experiencing. This is an essential part of making the final diagnosis, so please do not hold anything back. Be sure to list anything that is pertinent, such as how long you have been experiencing these bladder symptoms and how frequently they occur.

If bladder cancer is diagnosed, then the initial course of treatment will focus on relieving these symptoms while limiting potential side effects. Be sure to discuss all your treatment options with your oncologist and health care team.