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Parkland Medical Center

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer may not have many symptoms. If you experience any symptoms, do not assume it is due to cancer. Many symptoms can be caused by other, less serious conditions, such as urinary tract infections. However, it is still important to discuss them with your doctor. Early detection and treatment improve outcomes for both cancer and other health conditions.

The most common symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. The urine may appear brown, rust colored, or it may have visible blood clots in it. Typically, bloody urine is intermittent, meaning it may appear one day and disappear another. This does not mean there is not a problem or that it goes away. Anytime blood appears in the urine, even if there is no pain, it should be reported to your doctor.

Irritation to the bladder can affect how it holds and passes urine. Symptoms of irritation include:

  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Intense urgency when needing to urinate
  • Pain and/or burning with urination
  • Inability to hold urine
  • Obstructive problems such as:
    • Decreased force of stream
    • Intermittent stream
    • Straining
    • Feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder

Later stages of cancer may cause:

  • Sensation of a pelvic mass
  • Pain in the abdomen, lower back, or side caused by pressure on nearby nerves
  • Decreased appetite and unintended weight loss
  • Intense fatigue, abnormally low energy
  • Swelling from excess fluid in the legs and feet
  • Bone pain

Revision Information

  • Bladder cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed June 26, 2015.

  • Bladder cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated May 14, 2015. Accessed June 26, 2015.

  • Bladder cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: Updated November 2013. Accessed June 26, 2015.

  • General information about bladder cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Updated May 29, 2015. Accessed June 26, 2015.