What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Bladder Cancer?

by Malaika Hill Health Writer

Many of the symptoms of bladder cancer are caused by other conditions. So knowing the most common symptoms of this cancer type can help you seek medical evaluation sooner rather than later, which could help improve your prognosis. Experiencing one or more of these symptoms does not mean that you have bladder cancer, but knowing the warning signs and paying attention to your body will give you the knowledge to seek medical care when necessary.

Patient handing urine sample to a doctor.

Blood in urine most common symptom of bladder cancer

Seeing blood in your urine (called hematuria) is often the first symptom of bladder cancer. How much blood you see may vary, and can cause your urine to change colors, such as red, pink, or even orange. If you have only a small amount of blood in your urine, you may not be able to see it at all, and your doctor will conduct a urine test to detect it. This symptom can also be caused by an infection, non-cancerous tumors, or even kidney or bladder stones, so it’s important to have it checked out.

Restroom sign.

Trouble urinating is another common symptom

If you are making many more trips to the restroom to urinate than you normally do, feel the need to urinate even when your bladder is empty or pain or burning when urinating, you could be experiencing a symptom of bladder cancer. Just like seeing blood in your urine, having trouble urinating can be a symptom of other more common conditions like a urinary tract infection, an enlarged prostate in men, or bladder stones. Let your doctor know right away if you experience any of these symptoms.

Man with lower back pain.

Lower back pain on one side of body can be bladder cancer symptom

Another bladder cancer symptom that is common but not commonly associated with the cancer type is lower back pain on one side of the body. This is because more than 80 percent of people experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. However, when bladder cancer is in an advanced stage and has grown into your bladder’s muscle walls or spread to other organs, lower back pain on that side of the body can be a symptom.

Senior woman doesn't want to eat her meal.

Loss of appetite common symptom

If the idea of food makes you nauseous, you just have not been feeling hungry, or you have noticed significant weight loss, you may be experiencing a symptom of advanced bladder cancer. Because many health issues can cause you to lose your appetite, don’t immediately assume the worst. Instead, talk to your doctor about your appetite loss if it doesn’t go away.

Doctor weighing a senior patient.

Experiencing weight loss can be an issue

Have you experienced a dramatic weight loss, or perhaps a weight loss that isn't normal for you? Then this could be related to bladder cancer, or another type of cancer as well, and is a symptom that shouldn't be ignored.

Fatigued senior man.

Fatigue and weakness is not normal

Do you feel tired and weak with little to no interest in your normal activities? If you are sleeping more than your usual amount, and are still constantly tired, this may be a symptom of bladder cancer. Although fatigue and weakness are not common symptoms, they can happen to those in the advanced stage of the disease.

Man rubbing his swollen foot.

Fluid can cause your feet to swell

If you have metastatic bladder cancer that has spread to your lymph nodes, you may experience swollen feet. This symptom is called edema. It happens when fluid builds up in your body. It mostly affects the feet and the legs. If you are experiencing any of the previously mentioned symptoms and are also noticing swelling in your feet, reach out to your doctor to share your symptoms and undergo testing.

Man with bone pain feeling his knee.

Have bone pain?

When you feel pain as a result of bladder cancer, it is mostly caused by the tumor itself. If the tumor is pushing on your bone, you may experience pain, tenderness, or achiness in the affected bone. Additionally, if you have metastatic bladder cancer that has spread to your bones, it can also cause bone pain.

Man consulting his doctor.

What these bladder cancer symptoms show us

As you can see from this variety of symptoms so common to other health ailments, bladder cancer isn’t always easy to recognize. Consult your doctor if you experience any out-of-the-ordinary symptom.

Malaika Hill
Meet Our Writer
Malaika Hill

Malaika Hill is a freelance health writer specializing in ophthalmology and population health. For the past decade, she has dedicated her work to helping eye care professionals communicate advances in ophthalmic research to their peers and patients in an effort to provide the highest-quality eye care. She serves on the editorial board of the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science where she is committed to exploring and communicating short- and long-term strategies to prioritize eye and vision health disparities across the world. Malaika can be found on her website mdwesolutions.com, LinkedIn @malaikadavid, or Twitter @malaika_hill.