Bladder cancer is a disease that occurs most commonly in older people. In many patients, it can be a "silent" disease that may not surface many symptoms.
Early symptoms of bladder cancer: Common symptoms of bladder cancer in the initial stages include:
- Blood in urine (hematuria): This is the earliest and most common symptom of bladder cancer. About 8 or 9 out of 10 people with bladder cancer have blood in their urine. During hematuria, instead of being clear yellow, your urine may appear brown or rust coloured. Some people may even have visible clots in it. In most people, blood in the urine (or hematuria) tends to be intermittent, painless and present throughout micturition.
- Increased frequency of urination: Urinary symptoms that often develop in people with bladder cancer include:
- Increased frequency of urination (need to urinate more frequently than usual).
- Urgency when you have the urge to urinate.
- Difficulty or inability to hold urine (incontinence).
- Dysuria or pain while urinating.
- Recurrent or frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Symptoms of advanced bladder cancer: Symptoms suggestive of advanced bladder cancer include:
- Pain in the abdomen and/or back: The increase in size of the bladder tumour may put pressure on nearby nerves and organs, which may cause you to feel some pain in your abdomen, back, or sides.
- Swelling in the lower legs: As a bladder tumour grows, it may put pressure on the veins and lymphatic vessels draining blood and fluid from the lower limb resulting in swelling of the lower legs.
- Sensation of a mass in the abdomen: Increase in size of bladder tumour, may make you aware of the presence of a mass or growth in the pelvis near the bladder (pelvic mass).
- Fever: Many people with advanced cancer develop fever and chills.
- Decreased appetite and weight loss: With advance or growth of tumour, you may have loss of appetite along with unintended weight loss. These symptoms of cancer suggest that the cancer has progressed beyond the bladder.
- Intense fatigue, abnormally low energy: These are non-specific symptoms, which may develop as the cancer becomes more widespread and serious.
- Bone pain: If the cancer spreads through the body and involves the bones, you may have bone pain. This is a late symptom of bladder cancer.
All these signs and symptoms are non-specific. Similar symptoms can be caused by several other medical conditions. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your doctor right away. Your doctor, after examination and tests can diagnose the cause of your problems. If the tests confirm you have bladder cancer, you will be referred to a doctor who specializes in treatment of cancer (oncologist).