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Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer may not cause symptoms. If you have any, don’t think it's because of cancer. Many of them are caused by other, less serious conditions such as urinary tract infections. But, it's still important to talk about them with your doctor. Finding and treating the cause early will improve your chances for a cure.

Blood in the Urine

The most common symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. The urine may look brown, rusty, or it may have clots you can see. Often, bloody urine appears one day and disappears another. This doesn't mean there's not a problem or that it goes away. Anytime you see blood in the urine, even if there's no pain, you should call your doctor.

Bladder Irritation

Irritation can cause problems that interfere with how the bladder works. Irritation may cause:

  • Increased frequency
  • Intense urgency
  • Pain or burning when passing urine
  • Problems holding urine
  • Blocked flow, which may appear as:
    • Decreased force of stream
    • Stream that stops and starts
    • Straining
    • Feeling like the bladder didn't empty all the way

Later Stage Symptoms

Later stages of cancer may cause:

  • Feeling a pelvic mass
  • Pain in the belly, lower back, or side caused by pressure on nearby nerves
  • Loss of hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Swelling in the legs and feet because of fluid buildup
  • Bone pain

Bladder cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated June 26, 2018. Accessed August 3, 2018.

Bladder cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: Updated October 2017. Accessed August 3, 2018.

Signs and symptoms of bladder cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: Updated May 23, 2016. Accessed August 3, 2018.

General information about bladder cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Updated May 3, 2018. Accessed August 3, 2018.

Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP