Bladder cancer symptoms: Four changes in your pee that are ‘common’ signs

Bladder leakage: Exercises to improve your pelvic floor

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If bladder cancer spreads to other parts of the body, such as other organs, it’s known as metastatic bladder cancer. Dr Rhianna MycClyont, Lead GP at the digital healthcare provider Livi, said: “Common bladder cancer symptoms can include blood in your pee, dark coloured pee, a need to pee frequently and pain, a burning sensation when you pee and pain in your lower tummy.”

Indeed, the NHS says: “The most common symptom of bladder cancer is blood in urine, which is usually painless.

“If you notice blood in your urine, even if it comes and goes, you should visit your GP, so the cause can be investigated.”

The health body adds: “The medical name for blood in your urine is haematuria and it’s usually painless.

“You may notice streaks of blood in your urine or the blood may turn your urine brown. The blood isn’t always noticeable and it may come and go.”

It says if bladder cancer reaches an advanced stage and has spread, symptoms can occur elsewhere.

Dr Rhianna said: “If bladder cancer spreads and reaches an advanced stage, you may experience; pain in your pelvis, pain in your bones, weight loss and leg swelling.”

She said: “If you think you’re having bladder cancer symptoms, you should go and see a GP straight away.”

Dr Rhianna said there are some tests your doctor might recommend.

These include:

  • Urine microscopy – A sample of your pee is checked for blood cells or infections under a microscope.
  • A special urine test like a UroVysion test, ImmunoCyt test and NMP-22 test to check for any chemicals, proteins and chromosomal changes in your pee that could be caused by cancerous cells.
  • A cystoscopy – Involves a thin, flexible tube with a camera at one end being passed into your urethra (the tube that carries pee out of your body) and bladder to check for any cancerous cells. The doctor may also take a small sample from your bladder to test it (this is called a biopsy).
  • An ultrasound or CT scan.

Cancer Research UK says: “The risk of developing cancer depends on a number of things, including your age, genetics and lifestyle and environmental factors.

“Anything that can increase your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Different cancers have different risk factors. Having one or more of these risk factors doesn’t mean you will definitely get that cancer.”

The NHS says smoking is the single biggest risk factor for bladder cancer. It explains: “If you smoke for many years, these chemicals pass into your bloodstream and are filtered by the kidneys into your urine.

“The bladder is repeatedly exposed to these harmful chemicals, as it acts as a store for urine. This can cause changes to the cells of the bladder lining, which may lead to bladder cancer.”

The health body says exposure to certain industrial chemicals is the second biggest risk factor, and previous studies have estimated that this may account for around 25 percent of cases.

It says other factors that can increase your risk of bladder cancer include:

  • Radiotherapy to treat previous cancers near the bladder, such as bowel cancer
  • Previous treatment with certain chemotherapy medications, such as cyclophosphamide and cisplatin
  • Having certain treatments for type 2 diabetes
  • Having a tube in your bladder (an indwelling catheter) for a long time, because you have nerve damage that has resulted in paralysis
  • Long-term or repeated urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Long-term bladder stones
  • An untreated infection called schistosomiasis (bilharzia), which is caused by a parasite that lives in fresh water – this is very rare in the UK

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