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Urinary Bladder Cancer Signs and Symptoms

Observing blood in urine is the most common sign of urinary bladder cancer while there are other urination problems indicating this cancer. Nonetheless, you must understand that the early signs and symptoms of urinary bladder cancer are not severe.

1. Blood in the Urine

Hematuria or blood in urine is one of the signs of urinary bladder cancer. This sign is often painless and frequently comes and goes. In urinary bladder cancer, the blood is usually present during the urination process. This indicates that something is wrong and you need to immediately go for diagnosis. It is a subtle clue that something may be wrong but not a hard and fast rule.

2. Irritation When Urinating

In around 30% of people with urinary bladder cancer, the following signs and symptoms are observed when urinating:

  • Pain, discomfort and burning sensation while urinating
  • Frequent urination during the day, as well as at night
  • Involuntary urination
  • Urge to urinate even when the bladder is not full

While these symptoms might be due to other medical conditions like urinary tract infection, you must get it diagnosed at the earliest.

3. Obstruction during Urination

If you feel that urine flow is blocked by something, you must see your doctor. Even irritating symptoms may be the cause of prostate enlargement or any other urinary condition, so you need to get it evaluated for proper treatment. You may feel the given symptoms:

  • Hesitancy while urination, such as trouble to release urine or observing weak or intermittent urine stream
  • Straining to urinate
  • Feeling as if you are not able to let the urine out of your bladder
  • Flank pain may be observed when a tumour is blocking the ureter from passing urine

Rare Symptoms of Urinary Bladder Cancer

If the urinary bladder cancer passes to other body parts, you may develop some advanced diseases and experience the following generalized symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Trouble urinating
  • Unintentional weight loss

Pain is also an indicator of a tumour spreading to other parts of the body. If you observe pain in flank or just above the pubic bone, it can be a rare sign of bladder cancer. Even the pain in the perineum (the section between the penis/vagina and the anus) also occurs due to urinary bladder cancer when it reaches the nearby tissues or organs.


Depending on which area the urinary bladder cancer is spreading, you may start experiencing some rare symptoms in those specific areas. For example:

  • If urinary bladder cancer has spread to your lungs, it can cause a cough, breathlessness and cough with blood.
  • If urinary bladder cancer has spread to your kidneys, it causes kidney problems that can further lead to swelling in your feet or legs.
  • Even bone pain can occur if cancer spreads to the bones.
  • Abdominal pain occurs if urinary bladder cancer spreads to lymph nodes in the stomach or liver.

Causes of Urinary Bladder Cancer

The exact cause of urinary bladder cancer is not known. However, it occurs due to the abnormal cell growth – when the cells begin to multiply uncontrollably and rapidly, invading other tissues as well.

Here are some of the common reasons behind urinary bladder cancer:

1. Smoking

It is the major cause of bladder cancer because tobacco contains certain cancer-causing (carcinogenic) chemicals. If an individual has a long smoking history, these chemicals may have passed down into their bloodstream and filtered by kidneys into the urine, leading to urinary bladder cancer after years of exposure to such carcinogenic chemicals in tobacco.

2. Exposure to chemicals

Exposure to some industrial chemicals is another biggest reason leading to bladder cancer. The chemicals that are known to increase the risk of bladder cancer are:

  • 2-Naphthylamine
  • Aniline Dyes
  • 4-Aminobiphenyl
  • Benzidine
  • Xenylamine
  • O-toluidine

3. Occupations

Certain occupations are also linked to increased bladder cancer risk. These jobs are manufacturing work involving:

  • Textiles
  • Dyes
  • Rubbers
  • Plastics
  • Paints
  • Leather tanning

Other Risk factors causing bladder cancer are:

  • Radiotherapy for treating previous cancers around the bladder, such as bowel cancer
  • Exposure to chemotherapy medications like cisplatin and cyclophosphamide
  • Diabetes may also lead to bladder cancer in some cases
  • Recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Long-term bladder stones
  • Untreated UTIs
  • Early menopause (before the age of 45)
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Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Center or RGCIRC is the largest tertiary healthcare centre in Asia. Since our inception in 1996 in New Delhi, India, we have helped patients from across the sub-continent, SAARC countries and other places for diagnosis and treatment of all types of cancers. We bring cutting-edge technology while offering super specialised care in Medical. Surgical and Robotic oncology. Our alliances with internationally renowned institutes have helped us become pioneers in new approaches to treating cancer.

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