10 Scary Symptoms Of Bladder Cancer Every Woman Needs To Know

by Ileana Paules-Bronet
Ileana is the Senior Editor of Branded Content at Wild Sky Media. She grew up in upstate New York and Oregon and now lives in Queens, NY. Ileana graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in sociology. After graduating, she attended the Columbia Publishing Course in New York City, then worked as in marketing at Oxford University Press. Since transitioning to editorial, she has written for BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and Woman's World. She has also worked for local newspapers and magazines in upstate New York. In her free time, you can find Ileana watching Law & Order: SVU, eating ice cream, and spending time with her dog.

As women, we are told throughout life to specifically watch out for one type of cancer: breast cancer.

Many of us know we should pay attention to any changes in our breasts, like lumps or rashes, and some of us even know how to perform breast exams on ourselves. And it makes sense that most women know about breast cancer — according to, “About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.”

The problem is that there are many other types of cancer that women should know about, including skin cancer, lung cancer, and bladder cancer.

The bladder, a balloon-shaped organ that stores urine in the pelvis, can become cancerous, like many other organs.

Luckily, bladder cancer can often be found early because there are many noticeable symptoms.

Many bladder cancer symptoms are easy to ignore, so if you notice that you have any of them, you should take special note.

Read on to find out the 10 bladder cancer symptoms and signs everyone should know about.

Thumbnail: Flickr / Wikimedia

What Is Bladder Cancer?

what is bladder cancer
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According to the Mayo Clinic, bladder cancer usually begins in the cells that line the inside of the bladder.

Generally, bladder cancer affects older adults, but it can affect people of any age.

Most cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed early, when the cancer is very treatable. Unfortunately, bladder cancer, even early stage, often recurs.

Because of this, survivors of bladder cancer usually undergo a lot of follow-up tests.

Bladder Cancer Symptoms
Symptom 1: Blood in the Urine

blood in the urine
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The American Cancer Society explains that the first symptom many people experience when they have bladder cancer is blood in their urine.

The amount of blood may vary. Sometimes there will be so much blood that the urine stream will be a different color, while other times it won’t even be noticeable.

Often, blood in the urine may come and go, but it’s worth bringing up with your doctor if you notice any blood in your urine stream.

Although there’s a chance that blood in the urine means you have bladder cancer, there are also a variety of other reasons you might experience bloody urine, like infection, kidney or bladder stones, or noncancerous tumors.

Symptom 2: Frequent Urination

having to pee more
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Sometimes, but not always, bladder cancer will cause a change in your urination habits or cause bladder irritation.

One change some people notice is the need to urinate more often.

Some people also feel like they need to pee right away, even when they don’t have a full bladder.

Symptom 3: Pain or Burning During Urination

pain or burning during urination
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Feeling pain or a burning sensation during urination is another symptom of bladder cancer.

Again, there are other possible causes for the pain and/or burning, but you should always bring it up with your doctor to find out why you’re experiencing such discomfort.

Symptom 4: Difficulty Urinating

having trouble urinating
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Since most people have no trouble urinating when they feel like they need to go, this symptom might automatically send up a red flag for someone experiencing it.

If you find that you have trouble producing pee or you have a weak urine stream, it may be time to get it checked out by a doctor.

Symptom 5: Lower Back Pain on One Side

lower back pain
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Lower back pain can be a symptom of a variety of medical problems — from a slipped disk to menstrual cramps — but if you notice pain that is specific to one side, take note.

One-sided lower back pain may not be cause for immediate concern, but if you experience this symptom with any other symptoms, you should bring it up with your doctor.

Symptom 6: Feeling Tired or Weak

feeling tired or weak
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If you suddenly find yourself feeling tired or weak, but you can’t think of any life circumstances that could be causing it, mention it to your doctor.

Although there could be a variety of physical, mental, or emotional reasons for your tiredness or weakness, it may also be a sign of advanced bladder cancer.

Symptom 7: Loss of Appetite/Weight Loss

loss of appetite
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Losing your appetite may make you think that you’re just coming down with a bug, but if it persists for a while, you may have a more serious underlying cause.

If your appetite loss is combined with undesired weight loss, bring it up with your doctor, who can test you for a variety of underlying issues, including bladder cancer.

Symptom 8: Swollen Feet

swollen feet
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Most of us associate having swollen feet with being pregnant or spending a lot of time walking around.

If you notice that your feet are swollen for no apparent reason, it may be due to bladder cancer, especially if you are experiencing any of the other symptoms on this list.

Symptom 9: Inability to Urinate

unable to urinate
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As with difficulty urinating, being entirely unable to urinate is a more obvious symptom of bladder cancer.

If your urination challenges become so bad that you’re completely unable to urinate, it may be a sign of more advanced bladder cancer.

Symptom 10: Pelvic Pain

pelvic pain
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

If someone asked you what you thought a symptom of bladder cancer might be, you would probably think of pelvic pain — and you’d be right.

Pelvic pain, or pain in other bones, may be a symptom of bladder cancer.

As bladder cancer gets more advanced, it can spread to other parts of the body, which can cause bone pain in other locations as well.

If you have some of the symptoms of bladder cancer, visit your doctor.