Bladder Cancer: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Bladder cancer is cancer that develops in the cells in the lining or wall of the urinary bladder, the organ that stores urine. The cause of at least 50% of bladder cancers is cigarette smoking. Many of the toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke are cancer-causing substances (carcinogens). These chemicals enter the bloodstream from the lungs and, the kidneys then filter them into the urine. These chemicals therefore come into prolonged contact with the bladder wall and cause changes that lead to cancer in the cells lining the bladder. Other risk factors for developing bladder cancer include older age, male gender, exposure to toxic chemicals, and radiation.

Bladder cancer may not initially cause signs or symptoms. When symptoms and signs do occur, blood in the urine (hematuria) is a frequent sign. The bleeding is typically not associated with painful urination. The blood in the urine may be bright red blood, or the urine may appear dark. Some types of bladder cancer may cause irritation of the bladder with little or no bleeding.

Other bladder cancer symptoms and signs


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.