Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the bladder, a hollow organ in the lower part of the abdomen that stores urine until it is passed out of the body. Bladder cancer is a relatively common type of cancer, with an estimated 83,730 new cases and 17,200 deaths in the United States in 2021. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of bladder cancer.
The bladder cancer symptoms can vary depending on the stage of the cancer and the location of the tumor. In the early stages, the symptoms of bladder cancer may not cause any noticeable symptoms. As the cancer grows and spreads, however, it can cause a range of symptoms, including:
- Blood in the Urine: The most common symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine, also known as hematuria. The urine may appear pink, red, or brownish in color, and may be accompanied by clots. Hematuria is usually painless, and it may come and go.
- Painful Urination: Bladder cancer can cause pain or burning during urination, known as dysuria. This is often a sign that the cancer has grown into the lining of the bladder.
- Frequent Urination: Bladder cancer can cause an increased need to urinate, even if there is very little urine in the bladder. This is known as urinary urgency, and it can be a sign that the cancer is blocking the flow of urine.
- Lower Back Pain: Bladder cancer that has spread to nearby tissues or organs can cause pain in the lower back or pelvic area. This is often a sign that the cancer has advanced to a later stage.
- Swelling in the Legs: Bladder cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes in the pelvis can cause swelling in the legs, ankles, or feet. This is known as lymphedema, and it can be a sign that the cancer has spread beyond the bladder.
- Unexplained Weight Loss: Bladder cancer can cause unexplained weight loss, especially if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This is often a sign that the cancer is advanced and requires aggressive treatment.
- Fatigue: Bladder cancer can cause fatigue and weakness, even if you are getting enough rest. This is often a sign that the cancer is causing changes to your body that are affecting your overall health.
It is important to note that these symptoms can be caused by a variety of conditions, and having one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have bladder cancer. However, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor for an evaluation.
In addition to the symptoms listed above, there are several risk factors that can increase your likelihood of developing bladder cancer. These include:
- Smoking: Smoking is the single biggest risk factor for bladder cancer, accounting for approximately half of all cases. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage the cells lining the bladder, increasing the risk of cancer.
- Exposure to Certain Chemicals: Exposure to certain chemicals, such as those used in the dye industry, can increase the risk of bladder cancer. People who work in industries that use these chemicals are at higher risk.
- Age: Bladder cancer is more common in older adults, with the average age of diagnosis being 73.
- Gender: Bladder cancer is more common in men than women.
- Race: Bladder cancer is more common in white people than in people of other races.
- Chronic Bladder Inflammation: Chronic inflammation of the bladder, such as that caused by recurrent bladder infections, can increase the risk of bladder cancer.
If you are at risk for bladder cancer, it is important to be aware of the symptoms and to see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. Your doctor may perform several tests to determine if you have bladder cancer, including a physical exam, blood tests, urine tests, imaging tests, and a cystoscopy, which involves using a thin, flexible tube with a camera to examine the inside of the bladder.
If you are diagnosed with bladder cancer, the treatment will depend on the stage and location of the cancer. Treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. Your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for your specific situation.
It is important to remember that early detection and treatment of bladder cancer can greatly improve your chances of a successful outcome. If you are at risk for bladder cancer, it is important to take steps to reduce your risk, such as quitting smoking, avoiding exposure to chemicals that increase your risk, and seeking prompt medical attention if you experience any symptoms.
Bladder cancer is a relatively common type of cancer that can cause a range of symptoms, including blood in the urine, painful urination, frequent urination, lower back pain, swelling in the legs, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. These symptoms can be caused by a variety of conditions, so it is important to see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. If you are at risk for bladder cancer, it is important to take steps to reduce your risk and to seek prompt medical attention if you experience any symptoms. With early detection and treatment, bladder cancer can be successfully treated, and many people are able to live long and healthy lives.