Bladder cancer symptoms

Sometimes bladder cancer doesn’t have many symptoms and is found when a urine test is done for another reason. However, often people with bladder cancer do experience symptoms. These can include:

  • Blood in the urine (haematuria)  – This is the most common symptom of bladder cancer. It often occurs suddenly, but is usually not painful. There may be only a small amount of blood in the urine and it may look red or brown. For some people, the blood may come and go, or it may appear only once or twice.
  • Changes in bladder habits – A burning feeling when passing urine, needing to pass urine more often or urgently, not being able to urinate when you feel the urge, and pain while urinating can also be symptoms.
  • Other symptoms – Less commonly, people have pain in one side of their lower abdomen or back.

If you have any of these symptoms or are concerned, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Not everyone with these symptoms has bladder cancer. These changes might also indicate a bladder irritation or an infection. Blood in your urine can also be caused by kidney or bladder stones, and non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate in men.

Never ignore blood in your urine. Even if you’ve noticed blood in your urine only once and it is painless, see your doctor.

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This information was last reviewed in February 2018
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