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Bladder cancer symptoms

Because the bladder is responsible for holding urine after it is produced by the kidneys, many symptoms of bladder cancer may relate to urination abnormalities.

Understanding when symptoms are a sign of something serious and either diagnosing the disease or confirming a previous diagnosis require expertise from specialists trained and experienced in treating bladder cancer. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our bladder cancer experts treat all stages of the disease.  

Early warning signs of bladder cancer

Blood in the urine (hematuria) is typically the first sign of bladder cancer. Blood may cause the color of the urine to change to orange, pink or, rarely, dark red. Blood may be present on a regular basis or disappear and reappear over the course of days or weeks.

Early-stage bladder cancer doesn't usually cause pain or other symptoms besides bleeding. But blood in the urine doesn't always mean there is a tumor in the bladder. It's more likely to be caused by a less serious condition, such as an infection.

Changes in urination may be another early sign of bladder cancer. Frequent urination, pain during urination, an inability to urinate, and a feeling of urination urgency, even when the bladder is not full, may be symptoms of bladder cancer, but these changes are more commonly a sign of a less serious condition, such as a benign tumor or an infection.

Signs of advanced bladder cancer

When bladder tumors grow larger or cancer cells spread to other areas of the body, they may cause symptoms including:

  • Lower back pain, generally focused on one side
  • Bone pain
  • Feet swelling

If your doctor suspects bladder cancer, he or she will order tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.

Next topic: What are the types of bladder cancer?