Bladder cancer starts in the urinary bladder. It usually occurs in older adults, though it can occur at any age. Bladder cancer, like any other cancer, if diagnosed in the initial stages, responds better to treatment and the prognosis is better.
Consult your doctor if you have any/all of the following symptoms suggestive of some type of severe medical problem:
- Blood in the urine (hematuria). This is a significant complaint, which should not be ignored. It is an early and common symptom of bladder cancer. About 8 or 9 out of 10 people with bladder cancer have blood in their urine. In most people, blood in the urine (or hematuria) is intermittent, painless and present throughout micturition.
- Urinary complaints such as increased frequency of urinations (need to urinate more frequently than usual), urgency when one has the urge to urinate, incontinence (inability to hold urine), dysuria or pain while urinating. Many other problems besides bladder cancer such as enlarged prostate, urinary tract infection etc can also cause these problems.
- Other significant problems such as significant pain in the abdomen and/or back, swelling in the lower legs, fever (even if low grade) that persist for more than a few days etc.
- Decreased appetite, significant weight loss, intense fatigue and abnormally low energy are all non-specific symptoms. Nevertheless, if they are significant and bothersome, consult your doctor.
All these signs and symptoms are non-specific and can be caused by several medical conditions. If you experience any of these symptoms for more than a few days, consult your doctor. Your doctor can diagnose the cause of your problems and treat them accordingly.
When to consult a doctor if you have been treated for bladder cancer
If you are a bladder cancer survivor, it is important to have regular follow-up examinations after treatment is over. This helps in earlier diagnosis of recurrence (in case the cancer comes back). Regular follow-up care also gives you a chance to discuss any other changes in health with your doctor. In between follow-up appointments, consult your doctor if you:
- Have blood in your urine.
- Painful urination.
- Frequent urination.
- Significant back or flank pain.
Whom to consult
Health professionals, who can be consulted to evaluate your symptoms include;
- General physicians.
- Family doctor.
- Physician’s assistants.
If you are diagnosed with bladder cancer, doctors who can treat you include:
- Medical oncologists.
- Radiation oncologists.