Skip to main content.

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that begins in your bladder — a balloon-shaped organ in your pelvic area that stores urine.

Bladder cancer begins most often in the cells that line the inside of the bladder. According to the American Cancer Society, bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in males, but it's less common in females. Bladder cancer typically affects older adults, though it can occur at any age. 

Signs and Symptoms

Bladder cancer can often be found early because it causes blood in the urine or other urinary symptoms that cause a person to see a healthcare provider.

  • Blood in the urine with little or no pain or other symptoms
  • Changes in bladder habits or symptoms of irritation, such as:
    • Having to urinate more often than usual
    • Pain or burning during urination
    • Feeling as if you need to go right away, even when your bladder isn't full
    • Having trouble urinating or having a weak urine stream
    • Having to get up to urinate many times during the night

These symptoms are more likely to be caused by a urinary tract infection (UTI), bladder stones, an overactive bladder, or an enlarged prostate (in men). Still, it’s important to have them checked by a doctor so that the cause can be found and treated if needed.

Symptoms of advanced bladder cancer include:

  • Being unable to urinate
  • Lower back pain on one side
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Swelling in the feet
  • Bone pain

Risk Factors 

A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be changed. Others, like your age or family history, can’t be changed.

But having a risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And some people who get the disease may have few or no known risk factors. For bladder cancer, risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Increasing age
  • Being male
  • Exposure to certain chemicals
  • Previous cancer treatment
  • Chronic bladder inflammation
  • Personal or family history of cancer

Treatment Overview

The great majority of bladder cancers are diagnosed at an early stage — when bladder cancer is highly treatable. However, even early-stage bladder cancer is likely to recur. For this reason, bladder cancer survivors often undergo follow-up tests for years after treatment to look for bladder cancer recurrence.

Many times, the best option might include more than one of type of treatment. Surgery, alone or with other treatments, is used to treat most bladder cancers.

Common treatment options include:

Meet the Team


Options to Request an Appointment

If your situation is an emergency, call 911.