Signs and Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

Early Signs of Bladder Cancer

When caught it its early stages, bladder cancer can be highly treatable. That’s why it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of bladder cancer.

Blood in urine (hematuria)

The most common clinical sign of bladder cancer is painless gross hematuria, blood in the urine that can easily be seen. Two features that tend to mask the severity of the gross hematuria and may influence patients to postpone seeking immediate medical care are 1) the bleeding may be occasional and short-lived; and 2) there is likely to be no pain associated with the bleeding. In addition, it may be that the tumors do not produce enough blood for a patient to see (microscopic hematuria) and are only detected with the help of special chemicals and/or a microscope after a urine test is done by a physician.

However, blood in the urine does not necessarily mean a diagnosis of bladder cancer. Infections, kidney stones as well as aspirin and other blood-thinning medications may cause bleeding. In fact, the overwhelming majority of patients who have microscopic hematuria do not have cancer.

Remember: blood in your urine is NEVER normal.

Read about Gabrielle’s Symptoms in her story, “Gabrielle’s Pregnancy Saved Her Life.”

Watch our video, “What is hematuria?”

Painful urination

Pain when urinating, urgency, frequency and a constant need to urinate may be symptoms a bladder cancer patient initially experiences. Oftentimes, though, these are merely symptoms of a urinary tract infection and antibiotics become the first line of treatment. To make the necessary distinction between an infection and something more serious, it is critical that a urinalysis and/or culture are done to detect any bacteria in the urine. If the culture is negative for bacteria, patients should be referred to a urologist for further testing.

Urgent need to urinate

Urination urgency, or feeling like you must pee immediately, can be a sign of bladder cancer. This can happen even when your bladder is not full. If you experience this (it can happen to men and women), we strongly recommend that you go see your primary doctor, or a urologist.

Feeling the need (but unable) to pass urine

Sometimes, the urgent need to urinate is accompanied by the inability to empty your bladder. Again, the need but inability to urinate is likely to be cause by something other than bladder cancer, but it is still very important to get checked out by your doctor.

Other Bladder Cancer Symptoms

Other symptoms that may be indicative of bladder cancer include:

Abdominal pain

When you experience pain in your abdomen that comes and goes or does not go away.


Constantly feeling tired or tiring easily.

Lower back pain

Pain in your lower back that does not feel the same as a pulled muscle or disk problems.

Appetite loss or weight loss

Losing weight without trying or losing interest in eating.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bladder Cancer Symptoms

What are symptoms of advanced bladder cancer?

  • Being unable to urinate
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Overwhelming feeling of being tired or weak
  • Swelling in the feet
  • Pain in your bones
  • Pain in your lower back on one side

How would I know if I had bladder cancer?

Only a doctor can confirm or rule out bladder cancer. Learn how doctors diagnose and monitor bladder cancer.

Do you feel ill with bladder cancer?

Different bladder cancer patients experience different symptoms – there is no one size fits all. Some patients don’t experience any symptoms before their bladder cancer diagnosis.