Bladder Cancer Symptoms and Risks
Bladder cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States. Although seen most often in Caucasian men over 55, bladder cancer can affect anyone at any age. When bladder cancer symptoms are caught early, treatments are more effective and curing your disease is more likely.
Changing certain lifestyle habits, such as quitting smoking, may lower your risk for getting bladder cancer later in life. However, some risk factors are beyond your ability to control, such as your age.
The University of Kansas Cancer Center can help you understand more about your risk for developing bladder cancer. We can see you at any stage – whether you are concerned about risks, have already been diagnosed or want a second opinion.
Bladder Cancer Symptoms
The most common symptom of bladder cancer is noticing blood in your urine. If you have blood in your urine, the color can change from yellow to a darker color ranging from bright red to reddish brown. In some cases, your urine may look the same as usual and only a microscopic exam can detect the presence of blood.
Other possible bladder cancer symptoms can include:
- Frequent urination or a feeling of urgency
- Pain with urination
- Pelvic pain
- Back pain
These symptoms don’t always indicate the presence of bladder cancer and can occur with many other health conditions. Further testing and diagnosis will be necessary to determine whether you have bladder cancer.
Bladder cancer risk factors
We don’t always know the cause of bladder cancer, but smoking is the most common risk factor. Researchers believe that smoking is responsible for about half of all bladder cancers. Smokers are 4 to 7 times more likely to get bladder cancer compared to nonsmokers. Smoking cigarettes carries the biggest risk for developing bladder cancer, but smoking cigars or pipes can also increase your risk.
There are additional risk factors for getting bladder cancer, only some of which you can control:
- Exposure to certain chemicals, especially frequent exposure in the workplace (aniline dye and acrolein)
- Being male, Caucasian, and/or over 55
- Chronic bladder infections or irritation of the bladder lining
- Certain birth defects related to the bladder structure
- Being exposed to radiation in the past
Some lifestyle choices can lower your risk of bladder cancer, such as drinking lots of fluids throughout the day, especially water. Quitting smoking is also a good way to lower your risk for getting bladder cancer.