Bladder cancer may not be the most common form of cancer in the United States, but tens of thousands of new cases are diagnosed each year. In fact, bladder cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer diagnosed in American men.
Unusual symptoms when visiting the restroom, like pain while urinating or blood in the toilet, may have you worried about bladder cancer.
While symptoms such as these typically point to an infection and not cancer, it’s important to understand the early signs of the disease, especially since early diagnosis and treatment lead to a better prognosis.
At Urology Associates Medical Group in Burbank, California, our board-certified providers specialize in diagnosing and treating bladder cancer at all stages. We’re also committed to helping patients with bladder cancer get help as soon as possible.
Here’s what you need to know about the signs of bladder cancer.
Blood in your urine
The No. 1 sign of bladder cancer is hematuria, or blood in the urine. In fact, about 90% of patients with bladder cancer experience this condition, which can vary in presentation from light pink to brown to dark red.
While hematuria is also linked to noncancerous conditions like kidney stones, bladder infections, and urinary tract infections (UTIs), it’s never normal. If you see blood in your urine, contact us at Urological Associates Medical Group for an accurate diagnosis.
Frequent trips to the toilet
Bladder cancer develops when cells that make up the tissue inside your bladder mutate and destroy normal bladder tissues. For about 33% of people with bladder cancer, this creates irritation in the bladder that triggers an urge to urinate more frequently.
Changes in your urinary habits or function
If you’re having trouble urinating when you need to go, your body is giving you a signal that something’s wrong. Difficulty urinating comes in different forms, including:
- Trouble starting to urinate
- A weak urine stream
- An urgent need to pee even when your bladder isn’t full
- The need to get up multiple times at night to visit the toilet
Most of the time, these issues aren’t the result of bladder cancer. For example, in men, an enlarged prostate could be the cause, and for both men and women, lifestyle choices like drinking too much caffeine might be the trigger.
But because difficulty urinating is never normal, you should see a specialist to determine the underlying cause and begin appropriate treatment.
Pain in your pelvis or lower back
For some people with bladder cancer, symptoms don’t present until the disease has progressed and begun to spread. When the cancer spreads, it can cause pain in your pelvis and lower back.
If you have unexplained pain, especially on one side of your pelvis or back, bladder cancer could be the cause.
Know your risk factors for bladder cancer
Although scientists continue to research the exact cause of bladder cancer, researchers have identified key risk factors that increase the likelihood you may develop the disease. These risk factors include:
- Being or having been a smoker (three times more likely to have bladder cancer than non-smoking adults)
- Being male (nearly five times more likely than women to get bladder cancer)
- Having a history of parasitic infections
- Having been exposed to certain chemicals or herbs (e.g., arsenic)
- Having a personal history of chronic UTIs
- Having a family history of or genetic markers for the disease
Learn more about the signs of bladder cancer and how we treat the disease by contacting our Burbank, California, office. You can request an appointment using our online tool or by calling 818-853-9679.