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Bladder cancer often produces noticeable symptoms, such as bloody urine. If enough blood is present, the urine may appear brown, dark red, orange or pink in color. Even if the urine does not change color, the presence of a small amount of blood can be detected through a urinalysis, a simple test that is typically included as part of a routine physical examination.

With that said, blood in the urine is not a definitive sign of bladder cancer. In fact, it more often indicates a less serious condition, such as infection, kidney stones, bladder stones or benign kidney disease. Even so, it’s important to identify the cause of bloody urine so it can be treated, if necessary.

Bladder Cancer Can Cause Changes in Urination

In addition to blood in the urine, bladder cancer may cause urinary changes, such as:

  • Pain or burning sensations during urination
  • A need to urinate more frequently than usual
  • Urinary urgency, even when the bladder is not full
  • A weak urine stream
  • A need to urinate many times during the night

Much like bloody urine, however, these symptoms are more likely to have other causes, such as a urinary tract infection, overactive bladder or enlarged prostate (in men).

Symptoms of Advanced Bladder Cancer

As a bladder tumor grows or spreads to other parts of the body, it may cause additional symptoms, such as:

  • An inability to urinate
  • Lower back pain on one side of the body
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Bone pain
  • Swelling in the feet

In addition to bladder cancer, these symptoms can have other causes as well. If bladder cancer is suspected, a physician will recommend appropriate diagnostic testing, which may include imaging, a urine cytology, a cystoscopy or a biopsy.

Medically Reviewed by, Scott Gilbert, MD, Department of Genitourinary Oncology.

If you’d like to discuss your bladder cancer symptoms with a specialist in the Urologic Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, you can request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing a new patient registration form online. We do not require referrals.