Bladder cancer is diagnosed based on signs and symptoms. The most common sign and symptom of bladder cancer are urination abnormalities. Blood in the urine (hematuria), changes in urination patterns such as pain or burning during urination, frequent urination, weak urine stream, feeling of urination, and inability to urine are the common symptoms observed in bladder cancer patients. Other significant symptoms of advanced bladder cancer include the failure to urine, lower back pain focusing on one side, foot swelling, weakness and fatigue, appetite loss, pelvic pain, unexplained weight loss, and bone pain. The symptoms of metastasis of bladder cancer include shortness of breathing in the lungs, abdominal pain or jaundice affecting the liver, pain and fracture in the bones.
Signs and Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
Since the primary function of the bladder is to hold urine, most of the Symptoms of Bladder Cancer can be related to urination abnormalities 1.
Early Warning Signs of Bladder cancer
Blood in the urine (Hematuria)
This is usually the first sign of bladder cancer. It can be regular or in intervals of days or weeks. If the blood is present in small amounts that can’t be seen with naked eyes (microscopic hematuria), a urine test may detect it.
The early stages of bladder cancer usually are not associated with pain or other Symptoms of Bladder Cancer.
Also, blood in the urine doesn’t give certainty of the tumour in the bladder. It can be associated with less severe conditions like bladder stones, kidney stones, or other kidney diseases.
It is essential to highlight that blood in urine during menstruation can give false-positive test results.
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Changes in urination are commonly a sign of less severe conditions like urinary tract infection, bladder stones, benign tumor, an overactive bladder or, in men, an enlarged prostate 2. It can also be an early sign for bladder cancer symptoms-
- Pain or burning during urination
- Frequent urination
- Weak urine stream
- Feeling of urination, even when the bladder isn’t full.
- Inability to urinate
Sign of advanced bladder cancer
When the tumour grows or probably begins to spread to other parts of the body, symptoms may include-
- Inability to urinate
- Lower back pain focused on one side
- Feet swelling
- Weakness or fatigue
- Appetite loss
- Pelvic pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bone pain
If Bladder cancer has metastasized,
Then symptoms may include:
- Lungs: Coughing or shortness of breath
- Liver: Abdominal pain or jaundice
- Bones: Pain or fracture
- 1.Shephard EA, Stapley S, Neal RD, Rose P, Walter FM, Hamilton WT. Clinical features of bladder cancer in primary care. Br J Gen Pract. Published online September 2012:e598-e604. doi:10.3399/bjgp12x654560
- 2.Danna BJ, Metcalfe MJ, Wood EL, Shah JB. Assessing Symptom Burden in Bladder Cancer: An Overview of Bladder Cancer Specific Health-Related Quality of Life Instruments. BLC. Published online July 27, 2016:329-340. doi:10.3233/blc-160057