Bladder Cancer: Symptoms, Signs and Causes

Bladder cancer causes various symptoms. Most of these symptoms overlap with those of other serious and less serious health conditions. It is, therefore, important to see a doctor for a conclusive diagnosis.

What are the Genetic Factors of Bladder Cancer?

Bladder cancer is a polygenic condition resulting from several environmental factors and various low-penetrance predisposition genes. Mutations in several genes, such as FGFR3, KDM6A, PIK3CA, and TP53, may result in bladder cancer. A family history of bladder cancer may also increase the risk of bladder cancer.

What are the symptoms of gastrointestinal cancer?

Some of the common bladder cancer symptoms are:

Blood in the urine

Patients with bladder cancer may have hematuria, or blood in the urine, which is one of the stage 1 bladder cancer symptoms. In most cases, blood in urine is generally one of the first signs of bladder cancer. The patients may experience very little or no pain while passing urine with blood in it.

It is important to note that there are several reasons for the presence of blood in urine other than bladder cancer, such as infection or bladder stones. However, patients should consult with a doctor to rule out serious conditions.

Persistent bladder infections

Recurrent bladder infections may be one of the early symptoms of bladder cancer. It is because the tumor interferes with the protective lining of the bladder to allow the cancer cells to evade the immune system.

Urinary abnormalities

Patients with bladder cancer may experience various problems related to urination. This is also one of the bladder problem symptoms, which can be caused by various other urological conditions; therefore, it is important to see a doctor for a definitive diagnosis. Some of them are:

Pain in the pelvis

Pain in the pelvis is one of the bladder cancer symptoms observed in the advanced stages. Patients may initially have pain in the pelvic region, but later, it radiates to the lower back. It usually occurs on one side of the pelvis but may be present centrally. Pelvic pain occurs when the cancer spreads beyond the bladder.

Weight loss

Weight loss and reduced appetite are also identified as important bladder cancer symptoms. Compared to people with early-stage bladder cancer, people with metastatic and advanced cancer are more likely to lose weight and appetite.

Complete loss of appetite

A complete or partial loss of appetite may also be a sign of bladder cancer. As the disease spreads to other organs in the body, the appetite for food is affected.

Swelling in the feet and ankles

Swelling in the ankles and feet may occur in patients with advanced-stage bladder cancer. The swelling develops when the cancer spreads to the lymph nodes and interferes with lymph drainage. The condition is known as lymphedema.

What are the Causes of Bladder Cancer?

The exact pathophysiology of bladder cancer is not known. However, some of the possible bladder cancer causes are:

When to see an Oncologist?

It is important for patients to not ignore any symptoms of concern, especially if they have higher chances of developing bladder cancer. They should consult oncologists when they experience sudden changes or challenges with urination, blood in urine, loss of appetite, fatigue, and weight loss.


The most common urinary bladder cancer symptoms include blood in the urine, frequent bladder infections, urination abnormalities, loss of appetite, loss of weight, and swelling in the ankles. Possible bladder cancer causes include cigarette smoking, exposure to radiation and toxic chemicals, chronic use of catheters, administration of pioglitazone, and frequent bladder infections.

Frequently Asked Questions

The speed of bladder cancer progression depends on the type of bladder cancer. For instance, small cell carcinoma of the bladder rapidly grows. Low-grade squamous cell carcinoma of the bladder is slow-growing.

Muscle-invasive bladder cancers are aggressive and have the potential for rapid spread.

There is no direct association between stress and bladder cancer. However, chronic stress may interfere with the immune system, increasing the risk of bladder cancer. Further, chronic stress after a bladder cancer diagnosis also impacts outcomes.

Bladder cancer is usually not painful during the early stages of the disease. However, as the disease progresses, patients may start experiencing pain due to the growth of tumors in the bladder or other body parts.

The bladder cancer symptoms in women are similar to those in men. However, in women, these symptoms may often be confused with those of urinary tract infections, which are relatively more common among women.

It is important to note that none of these symptoms should be ignored, especially if they are persistent.