Bladder cancer begins in the bladder, a hollow, expandable organ in the pelvis that stores urine until it’s emptied from the body. This cancer usually begins in the cells that line the inside of the bladder. It mostly affects people older than 70 and occurs more often in men.
Bladder cancer is usually found in its early stages and it generally responds well to treatment when it’s diagnosed early on. However, people who have been successfully treated for bladder cancer should be monitored afteward because it can return (recur) even years later.
The earliest sign of bladder cancer is usually blood in the urine, called hematuria, which often occurs without pain or other urinary symptoms. It may be very faint or a pink tinge, or the blood may be obvious. The blood may not be present in the urine all the time – it may come and go.
Many people dismiss this symptom since it may go away for several weeks before it returns. Men with blood in their urine should have a complete workup of their genitourinary tract, including the kidneys and bladder.
Other signs and symptoms of bladder cancer include:
- burning, irritation, or pain when urinating
- difficulty urinating or inability to urinate
- frequency (the need to urinate often)
- pain in the bladder area or bladder spasms
- urgency (the intense need to urinate immediately)
These signs and symptoms don’t necessarily mean that you have bladder cancer. Speak with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms so that you can be sure to get a proper diagnosis.