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Bladder cancer may not have many symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to cancer. Most of these symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions, such as urinary tract infections. If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor for a diagnosis. Early treatment can improve outcomes for both cancer and infections.

Blood in the Urine

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.

Bladder Irritation

Irritation to the bladder can effect 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

Advanced Symptoms

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


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.

Last reviewed May 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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