Bladder Cancer Symptoms, Stages, Prevention

By Prev Info - October 19, 2022

Bladder Cancer Symptoms

Bladder cancer occurs when malignant cells develop and multiply in the bladder. Early diagnosis is vital so treatment can begin. The first signs of bladder cancer closely resemble other conditions such as a bladder or kidney infection, and many sufferers ignore the early symptoms. Fortunately, bladder cancer is very treatable, and many make a full recovery. Recognizing the signs is key to a full recovery.

The Facts

According to the American Cancer Society, bladder cancer is diagnosed in more than 70,000 Americans each year and causes about 14,000 deaths annually. Males have a 1 in 27 chance and females a 1 in 84 chance of developing the cancer during their lifetime. About 90 percent of those diagnosed with bladder cancer are over 55 years old.


Recognizing the symptoms of bladder cancer is important for a favorable prognosis. The 5-year death rate is less than 5 percent for tumors isolated to the bladder's inner surface.

Primary Symptom

Hematuria, or blood in the urine, is the most common symptom. Hematuria takes two forms: blood that can be visibly seen in urine or blood that can be seen only under a microscope. This occurs because the tumor sheds abnormal cells into urine.

Blood in Urine

Traces of blood in the urine can indicate a host of urinary problems, including bladder cancer. Rather than ignore this symptom or attribute it to a less serious condition, contact a physician and have an urinalysis and lab work. Blood may appear bright red or dark brown.

Painful Urination

Another intial sign of bladder cancer is painful urination. Individuals who suffer from this type of cancer may also urinate frequently or have difficulty emptying their bladder. Painful urination is best described as a burning and stinging sensation, and discomfort can linger for several minutes or hours after emptying the bladder.

Urgency to urinate or painful and frequent urination may be caused by increased sensitivity and irritability of the bladder to the cancer cells. Constant urinary tract infections may also be symptomatic of the cancer.

Urinary Tract Infection

Some cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed after an individual seeks treatment for chronic urinary tract infections. Extension lab work can indicate abnormalities; and after an imaging test, doctors may detect cancerous cells in the bladder. Anyone who sufferers from recurrent urinary tract infections should talk with the doctor about the possibility of bladder cancer.

Consult with your doctor if you frequently have trouble urinating or have a desire to urinate but feel unable to do so. These can be symptoms of bladder cancer.

Abdominal or Pelvic Pain

The bladder is located in the pelvis area. Thus, individuals suffering from a bladder condition such as bladder cancer will likely experience pain or intense pressure in the pelvis or lower abdomen. Women may mistakenly attribute this symptom to a gynecological problem. Talk with a doctor if pelvis or abdominal pain persist for longer than two weeks.

Back Pain

Back pain can signal a kidney infection. But if you have bladder cancer, mild to moderate back pain is an early symptom of the disease. There are several causes of back pain. Thus, it's vital to assess your symptoms. Back pain accompanied by painful urination and pelvic pain, and pain that doesn't respond to over-the-counter medications can suggest bladder cancer.


Flank pain, a pelvic mass near the bladder and inflammation in the lower legs are symptoms associated with advanced bladder cancer. Rapid weight loss; pain in the bones, rectum or anal areas; and anemia are indicative of metastasis, or cancer spread to other parts of the body.


These symptoms may indicate other conditions besides cancer. It is imperative to get checked them out when they do occur.

Bladder Cancer Stages

The first step in forming treatment to save a patient after diagnosis is staging the cancer. The stage of the bladder cancer will indicate how far it has spread--or if it has spread at all.

Stage I

Bladder cancer in Stage I is in the earliest stage of the disease. There will only be cancer cells found on the surface of the bladder's inner lining.

Stage II

In Stage II, there are cancer cells deep inside the lining of the bladder. There are still no cells, though, within the muscle of the bladder.

Stage III

Once the cancer is in Stage III, there are cancel cells in the muscle of the bladder. This is in addition to those found in the lining.

Stage IV

Stage IV bladder cancer is the most serious. The cancer cells are found through the muscle of the bladder and the tissue surrounding it. It may also have spread to the prostate (men), or the uterus or vagina (women).

About Bladder Cancer Treatments

Cancer of the bladder is usually diagnosed at early stages and has high survival rates. Effective treatments for bladder cancer depend on the stage of cancer and include surgery to remove the tumor and may also include immunotherapy, chemotherapy and radiation. People with symptoms of bladder cancer should see a doctor right away so that diagnosis and treatment can begin as quickly as possible.


Eating a healthy diet, including foods like fruits and vegetables with antioxidants, avoiding smoking, having your well water tested for arsenic and avoiding exposure to chemicals can lower the risk of developing bladder cancer.



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