Early Signs of Bladder Cancer

It may be hard to believe, but smoking is the root cause of about 50% of all bladder cancer cases in American adults. While smokers are three times more likely to get bladder cancer than non-smokers, however, many people without any known risk factors develop the disease. 

Bladder cancer starts in the cells that line the inside of your bladder as they mutate and begin to grow abnormally. These abnormal cells destroy your normal bladder tissues, and over time they can spread, or metastasize, to other areas of your body. 

Early treatment offers more effective treatment and a better prognosis for men and women diagnosed with bladder cancer. To make sure you get the care you need fast, the experienced providers and care team at Urological Associates in Charlottesville, Virginia, has put together this helpful guide outlining the early signs of bladder cancer.

Take a moment to read about the top five early signs of bladder cancer. 

1. You have blood in your urine

The number one early sign of bladder cancer is seeing blood in your urine, which is called hematuria. Blood in the urine can look different depending on how much there is, so look for pink, brown, orange, or dark red colors. 

Hematuria can come and go, meaning your urine will appear bloody one day and be clear the next. You may not notice blood in your urine for weeks — even months. But if bladder cancer is the culprit, your hematuria will return. 

Most of the time, hematuria is not related to bladder cancer. Most often it’s a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI), kidney or bladder stones, and other infections or benign conditions. However, if you see blood in your urine, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your provider at Urological Associates to determine the underlying cause. 

2. You have to urinate more often 

Bladder cancer can trigger the urge to urinate more frequently. In fact, about 20-30% of bladder cancer patients suffer from irritative bladder symptoms, which cause changes in your urination. 

The urge to urinate more frequently usually indicates a UTI rather than bladder cancer, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you find you’re running to the bathroom more often and don’t have another reason, such as increased water or caffeine, be sure to tell your provider.  

3. You’re having trouble urinating

Difficulty urinating, such as having a hard time starting to urinate, having a weak urine stream, and feeling an urgent need to urinate even when your bladder is empty, can be an early sign of bladder cancer. 

It’s important to note that other non-cancerous issues are more likely to be the cause of trouble urinating. For men, especially men over 50, difficulty urinating is usually caused by an enlarged prostate. 

Most of the time, the cause of difficulty urinating requires medical treatment. Don’t wait to make an appointment if you’re having trouble urinating.  

4. You’ve started getting up at night to urinate

Another early symptom of bladder cancer can be waking up many times at night to take a trip to the restroom. Like the other changes in urination, most of the time there’s another explanation for nighttime urination. But since bladder cancer is easier to treat when caught early, be sure to discuss this symptom with your provider at Urological Associates.

5. You’re experiencing pelvic or low back pain

Sometimes people don’t experience any symptoms of bladder cancer until it grows. In this case, one of the earliest signs 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. 

What should I do if I’m worried about bladder cancer?

If you have any of the signs of early bladder cancer, don’t wait to schedule an appointment at Urological Associates. Our providers have experience diagnosing bladder cancer as well as many other conditions related to the bladder and urinary system. 

If you are diagnosed with bladder cancer, our providers have extensive experience providing patients with the best course of treatment for their stage of cancer. Remember, when caught early, bladder cancer is highly treatable. 

Do you have any of the early signs of bladder cancer? Don’t wait to schedule an appointment at Urological Associates in Charlottesville, Virginia. We also offer telehealth appointments for your convenience.

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