Bladder CancerBladder Cancer Symptoms

Let's Talk About Bladder Cancer Signs and Symptoms

Everything you need to know to identify the signs of bladder cancer, including how to recognize different stages of the disease.

    Our Pro PanelBladder Cancer Signs and Symptoms

    We went to some of the nation's top experts in bladder cancer to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Hooman Djaladat, M.D. headshot.

    Hooman Djaladat, M.D.Urologic Oncologist and Associate Professor of Clinical Urology

    University of Southern California Institute of Urology
    Los Angeles
    Philippe Spiess, M.D. headshot.

    Philippe Spiess, M.D.Genitourinary Oncologist and Assistant Chief of Surgical Services

    Moffitt Cancer Center
    Tampa, FL
    Gary Steinberg, M.D. headshot.

    Gary Steinberg, M.D.Urologic Oncologist and Bladder Cancer Surgeon

    NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center
    New York City

    Frequently Asked QuestionsBladder Cancer Signs and Symptoms

    I think I may have blood in my pee, but I’m not sure. How can I tell?

    Even a little blood can turn your urine red, but other colors can include pink, rust, or even orange. Sometimes the blood comes out with clots (like a period). If it comes and goes and you still should get it checked out, just for your peace of mind.

    Do I really need to get a cystoscopy?

    Yes, if you have blood in your urine and the doctor has ruled out a UTI or other type of infection. Many people are scared to get one—it’s not fun to get probe up your urethra, but it doesn’t last more than ten minutes and you don’t feel much because you’ve been numbed and given sedatives. But that test combined with a scan or ultrasound can rule out benign tumors from malignant ones.

    I have to go several times during the night. Should I be worried?

    Not necessarily, especially if you don’t have other symptoms. You could just have an overactive bladder, which can be caused by a number of conditions, including diabetes, drinking too much caffeinated drinks or alcohol, an enlarged prostate or a UTI. But if your nighttime pee has blood, call the doctor.

    My lower back constantly aches. Is that a bad sign?

    While this could be a sign of bladder cancer, it's actually pretty rare. And when it does occur, it's usually not the only sign. Most of the time, people also have blood in the urine. The more likely explanation? You're dealing with an actual backache, not cancer.

    Linda Rodgers

    Linda Rodgers


    Linda Rodgers is a former magazine and digital editor turned writer, focusing on health and wellness.