Hartford Hospital

Conditions In Brief

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Bladder cancer may not have many symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to cancer. Most of these symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.

Bloody urine —This is the most common early symptom of bladder cancer. Instead of being clear yellow, the urine may appear brown, rust colored, or it may have visible clots in it. Typically, the bloody urine is intermittent, painless, and present throughout urination.

Bladder irritability —Urinary symptoms that often accompany bladder cancer include the following:

  • Needing to urinate more frequently than usual
  • Intense urgency when needing to urinate
  • Pain and/or burning with urination
  • Inability to hold urine
  • Obstructive problems such as:
    • Decreased force of stream
    • Intermittent stream
    • Straining
    • Feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder

Sensation of a mass in the abdomen —As a bladder tumor grows, you may become aware of the presence of a mass.

Pain in the abdomen and/or back —As a bladder tumor grows and begins to put pressure on nearby nerves and organs, you may begin to feel some pain in your abdomen, back, or side.

Fever —Fever and chills may occur if the cancer has become advanced.

Decreased appetite and unintended weight loss —These are also late symptoms of cancer, often suggesting that the cancer has spread beyond the bladder.

Intense fatigue, abnormally low energy —These feelings may occur as the cancer becomes more widespread and serious.

Swelling in your feet and legs —An enlarging bladder tumor may put pressure on the veins that return blood to your heart, causing swelling in your feet and/or legs.

Bone pain —This is usually a relatively late symptom of bladder cancer, occurring when bladder cancer has spread through the body to involve the bones.


Bladder cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/bladdercancer/. Accessed June 5, 2013.

Bladder cancer. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=100. Updated March 2013. Accessed June 5, 2013.

What you need to know about bladder cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at http://www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/wyntk/bladder. Updated August 30, 2010. Accessed June 5, 2013.

Last reviewed June 2013 by Mohei Abouzied, MD; Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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