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Bladder Cancer Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Bladder Cancer


Updated May 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Bladder cancer is a disease that affects the bladder, the organ responsible for acting as a collection reservoir for urine until it is excreted from the body. Like all other organs in the body, the bladder is vulnerable to disease, such as cancer. There are symptoms of bladder cancer that are common with the disease, but not exclusive to it. Symptoms can also be similar to much less serious conditions, so it is important to see your doctor if you experience them.

Bladder Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms are few, yet very noticeable. They can come and go or be persistent. Signs of bladder cancer include:
  • Blood in the Urine (hematuria): When you can physically see blood in your urine, it is call gross hematuria. Blood can appear in the urine as a pink, brown or red hue. Blood clots can also be present. Many times, blood in the urine is not visible to the naked eye -- a microscopic analysis of the blood can reveal hematuria when it cannot physically be seen.

  • Painful Urination: Pain during urination is called dysuria. Pain can range from mild to severe.

  • Frequent Urination: Having to urinate often and during the night is also a symptom of bladder cancer. People with bladder cancer may also have an intense physical sensation of needing to empty the bladder, despite just having urinating or not expelling urine when trying.

What to Expect When You Go to the Doctor

If a doctor suspects that something may be wrong with your bladder, one of the first tests done will be a urine culture and urinalysis. Your doctor will want to see if an infection is the underlying cause of symptoms.

A urine culture looks for the presence of bacteria in the urine, while urinalysis checks for the presence of blood. Both a urinalysis and culture require you to provide a sample of urine, either by urinating in a cup or by catheter. Note: If you are being treated for a urinary tract infection or cystitis and are not feeling better after taking all of your medication, it is important that you let your doctor know.

Your doctor may also want to check your urine for the presence of tumor markers, which are proteins that are increased in the urine of people with bladder cancer.


American Cancer Society. How is Bladder Cancer Diagnosed? Bladder Cancer: Detailed Guide. 07 July 2010. Accessed July 15, 2010.

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