Have you noticed worrisome urinary tract symptoms, like blood in your urine or an urge to urinate more frequently? Do you worry that they’re signs of bladder cancer?
The good news is that most of the time, symptoms like these can be explained by another medical condition, like a urinary tract infection.
At Urology Associates Medical Group in Burbank, California, Philip Weintraub, MD, and our compassionate care team offer effective treatment for men and women diagnosed with bladder cancer.
To make sure you get the care you need fast, our experienced providers put together this helpful guide outlining the five signs of bladder cancer. Take a moment to read about bladder cancer and the signs that indicate it’s time to schedule an evaluation with an expert.
About bladder cancer
Bladder cancer begins when the cells that line the inside of your bladder mutate. These abnormal cells take over and begin to destroy your normal bladder tissue. Over time, the cancerous cells can metastasize or spread to other areas of your body.
Scientists are still working to better understand the cause of bladder cancer. They’ve discovered that certain risk factors increase your chances of developing this disease. For example, smokers are about three times more likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer than other adults.
Other risk factors for bladder cancer include:
- A history of parasitic infections
- Exposure to certain workplace chemicals
- Ingestion of certain herbs or chemicals, like arsenic
- Chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- A family history of or genetic markers for bladder cancer
Signs of bladder cancer
When you first develop bladder cancer, you may not have any noticeable signs of the disease. But as it progresses, certain symptoms may appear. When caught early, bladder cancer is highly treatable, so understanding these signs is important for the best prognosis.
Here’s a closer look at several of the earliest signs of bladder cancer:
Blood in your urine
Most of the time, blood in your urine isn’t the result of bladder cancer. It's more commonly a sign of a UTI, kidney or bladder stones, and other infections or non-cancerous urinary system conditions.
Yet about 80-90% of patients diagnosed with bladder cancer report hematuria, or blood in the urine. Blood in the urine doesn’t always appear as bright red. Depending on how much blood is present, you may notice pink, brown, orange, or dark red urine.
If you see blood in your urine, schedule an appointment with us at Urological Associates Medical Group to determine the underlying cause.
Frequent urge to urinate
Nearly a third of patients diagnosed with bladder cancer experience changes related to urination called irritative bladder symptoms, though the urge to urinate frequently usually points to a UTI and not bladder cancer.
Even though frequent urination is not likely caused by cancer, you should still meet with an expert. We first rule out more common reasons, such as increased water or caffeine consumption, infection, or an enlarged prostate.
Many patients who are diagnosed with bladder cancer report difficulty urinating. This could include trouble starting to urinate, a weak urine stream, or an urgent need to urinate even when your bladder is empty.
But as with other signs of bladder cancer, difficulty urinating is more often related to a non-cancerous condition, especially for men over 50, who may struggle to urinate because of benign prostate hyperplasia.
Regardless of the cause, difficulty urinating requires medical treatment. If you’re having trouble urinating, schedule a visit with us at Urological Associates Medical Group.
Waking up at night to relieve your bladder is another early sign of bladder cancer, though most of the time there’s another explanation. Even so, because treating bladder cancer early leads to better treatment and a more favorable prognosis, discuss this symptom with us.
Pelvic or low back pain
Sometimes bladder cancer doesn’t cause symptoms until it grows and begins to bother other parts of your body. For example, one sign of growing or spreading bladder cancer is pain in your pelvic region or pain that radiates to your lower back, especially on only one side.
If you have any of the early signs of bladder cancer, don’t delay. Schedule an appointment with our medical team. Our urologists have experience diagnosing and treating bladder cancer and other conditions related to the bladder and urinary system.
Do you have any of these signs of bladder cancer? Contact us at Urological Associates Medical Group in Burbank, California. Our practice also offers telehealth appointments for your convenience.