What are the symptoms of bladder cancer?
The most common symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. Other symptoms can include:
- Frequent urination
- Pain during urination
- Lower back pain
- Change in bladder habits, such as feeling that you need to urinate right away when your bladder is not full
- Trouble urinating
Symptoms of advanced bladder cancer may include:
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Feeling tired
- Lower back pain on one side
How is bladder cancer diagnosed?
Most bladder cancers – between 70 and 80 percent – are diagnosed at an early stage, typically after a patient notices blood in his or her urine.
If your doctor suspects you have bladder cancer, he or she may conduct a physical exam and ask about your medical history. Your physicians may also order diagnostic tests to pinpoint the exact type of tumor, so we can work with you to develop the best possible treatment plan. Some of the diagnostic tests may include:
- Imaging tests, such as CT scans, MRIs, X-rays or ultrasounds.
- Blood and urine tests.
- Biopsy. During this procedure, we will remove a tiny piece of tissue from a tumor and a pathologist will examine the tissue under a microscope to see if it has cancerous cells.
- Cystoscopy. This test involves inserting a small tube with a lens into your urethra to see the urethra, kidneys and bladder.
- Blue light cystoscopy. During this test, your doctor will insert a small tube with a lens into your urethra and inject a solution into your bladder. If there are cancer cells in your bladder, they will absorb this solution. Then, your doctor will look into your bladder using the lens and a special blue light. This light will react with the solution and make any cancerous cells turn pink, allowing easy detection of cancerous tumors in the bladder. While this procedure commonly requires anesthesia and an operating room, Miami Cancer Institute’s urologic oncologists offer flexible blue light cystoscopy, which can be performed under local anesthetic, allowing the patient to drive home and return to normal activity.
- Urine cytology. This test is typically done alongside a cystoscopy. During this test, urine is flushed out of the bladder and then observed under a microscope to check for abnormal (cancerous) cells.
- Genetic counseling and testing. These tests may be needed if you have bladder cancer that has spread or a family history of the disease. Results from genetic tests can help inform treatment plans and help your care team develop the most effective way to kill the cancer.