Signs of Bladder Cancer
- Brown urine can be caused by hematuria, or blood in the urine, and hematuria is the the main first sign of bladder cancer. Other signs of bladder cancer can include changes to your urination habits and patterns.
- One of our experts says that “early acknowledgement of [bladder cancer] symptoms and not ignoring symptoms” is very important. Even though changes to your urine or urination habits do not necessarily mean bladder cancer, it’s important to see your doctor promptly if any concerning changes occur.
- This expert also says the best way to avoid bladder cancer is to “hydrate well, don’t smoke and make sure that you get in to see your physician if you have symptoms that concern you.”
Bladder cancer isn’t a cancer that’s talked about too often, but it should be a part of the cancer conversation more often. In fact, Dr. Jay Shah, the cancer care program leader for urologic oncology at the Stanford Cancer Center, previously told SurvivorNet that is was “the fifth most common cancer that we see in the American population.” It’s worth noting, though, that the National Cancer Institute puts it as the sixth most common type of cancer in the United States.Read More
- Food. Eating large amounts of fava beans, rhubarb or aloe can cause dark brown urine.
- Medications. A number of drugs can darken urine, including the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and primaquine, the antibiotics metronidazole (Flagyl) and nitrofurantoin (Furadantin), laxatives containing cascara or senna, and methocarbamol — a muscle relaxant.
- Medical conditions. Some liver and kidney disorders and some urinary tract infections can turn urine dark brown.
- Extreme exercise. Muscle injury from extreme exercise can result in pink or cola-colored urine and kidney damage.
Regardless, you should always discuss any changes to your urination color or patterns with a doctor to rule out any serious causes and receive proper treatment.
“Early acknowledgement of [bladder cancer] symptoms and not ignoring symptoms is probably one of the other most important things that you can do,” Dr. Arjun Balar, the vice president of global clinical development at Loxo Oncology at Lilly, previously told SurvivorNet during a conversation about bladder cancer.
Signs of Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer can often be detected early because the main first sign of the disease – hematuria – is hard to overlook. This is great news because the disease is highly treatable when detected early.
Hematuria means there is blood in the urine. This blood can change the urine’s color to orange, pink, dark red or even brown if there’s enough blood. Hematuria is usually the first sign of bladder cancer, but it can also occur with other health issues too.
“That is far and away the most common presenting symptom,” Dr. Balar previously told SurvivorNet.
In the early stages of bladder cancer, when the tumor is small and cancer cells are confined to the bladder, this bleeding is typically painless. Because of this and the fact that these symptoms can be brief and irregular, some people might not seek out medical help right away. And when there’s only small amounts of blood in the urine, you might not even see a noticeable change in color.
According to Dr. Balar, other symptoms of this disease resemble that of a urinary tract infection. He even said some patients might find out they have bladder cancer after “many courses of antibiotics to treat what was thought to be a urinary tract infection that simply did not get better.”
On top of blood in the urine, other possible symptoms of bladder cancer can include:
- Needing to urinate more frequently than you typically would
- Feeling like you need to urinate urgently even when your bladder isn’t full
- Waking up to urinate many times throughout a night (as we’ve mentioned before)
- Having a trouble urinating because of pain or a burning sensation
- Frequent urination, urgent urination, and uncomfortable urination are all symptoms of bladder cancer.
In addition, people with advanced bladder cancer may experience additional symptoms like:
- Inability to urinate
- Pain on one side of the lower back and pelvis
- Loss of appetite
- Unintended weight loss
- Fatigue or weakness
- Bone pain
- Swollen feet
There’s no recommended screening for bladder cancer since screening methods have not been shown to reduce the risk of dying from the disease for people with an average level of risk. Even still, doctors may recommend screening for certain high-risk individuals. But if you want to do your best to avoid bladder cancer, Dr. Balar’s advice is simple:
“Hydrate well, don’t smoke and make sure that you get in to see your physician if you have symptoms that concern you.”