Symptoms & Risk Factors of Bladder Cancer

As with most cancers, bladder cancer is easiest to treat when it's detected early. Knowing the signs and symptoms of bladder cancer and seeking help immediately can increase the likelihood of survival. So, if you have blood in your urine, or if you are worried about bladder cancer, talk to your doctor.

Though many early signs of bladder cancer overlap with symptoms of conditions like urinary tract infections, it's always wise to consult a doctor. If your doctor suspects you may have bladder cancer, they may recommend Cxbladder, an accurate, easy-to-use urine test that helps detect or rule out bladder cancer. Your test results can give you confidence, reassurance and peace of mind.

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What Are the Early Warning Signs and Symptoms of Bladder Cancer?

Bladder cancer can cause a number of common symptoms. If you experience any of these concerns, talk to your doctor — they can help you determine the cause and recommend treatment if necessary.

The most common early symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine, also called hematuria. The presence of blood might change the color of your urine (macrohematuria) or it might be invisible, detected only with urinalysis (microhematuria). Generally, hematuria isn't associated with pain.

About four in every five people with bladder cancer will have hematuria, so it's important to seek help as soon as you notice this early warning sign.

Other early bladder cancer warning signs include:

  • An increased frequency of, or difficulty with, urinating
  • An increase in the feeling of urgency to urinate
  • Pain when urinating

If the cancer continues to grow past early stages and spreads to other parts of the body, you might experience signs of advanced bladder cancer, such as:

  • Pain in the lower back
  • Being unable to urinate
  • Fatigue or feeling weak

Just because you have these symptoms does not mean you have bladder cancer. However, you should tell your doctor about any concerning symptoms regardless. Having a Cxbladder test to check for bladder cancer can give you peace of mind.

Risk factors for bladder cancer

Anyone can develop bladder cancer. Naturally, though, some people have an elevated risk of the disease. Read more about common risks for bladder cancer below:

Gender: Bladder cancer occurs in both men and women, but the risk is four times greater in men than women.

Age: Bladder cancer is most common in men aged 55+ years.

Smoking history: About half of all people with bladder cancer are current smokers or ex-smokers. The risk is 4-fold greater in current smokers, and 2-fold greater in ex-smokers, than in non-smokers.

Exposure to chemicals in the workplace: Bladder cancer risk can be increased in jobs with long-term exposure to harmful chemicals (especially aromatic amines):1

    • Boot and shoe manufacture and repair
    • Firefighting
    • Foundry work
    • Hairdressing
    • Machining and metal work
    • Painting
    • Petroleum refining
    • Plastic and rubber industry
    • Printing industry
    • Rail and heavy road transport
    • Road paving
    • Textile industry
    • Vehicle maintenance and repair

Other risk factors for bladder cancer


The risk of bladder cancer is two-fold greater in Caucasians than African Americans and Hispanics. Asian individuals have the lowest risk of bladder cancer.

Long-term bladder inflammation

Urinary tract infections, kidney stones and bladder stones may be linked with, but do not cause, bladder cancer

History of bladder cancer

You have an increased risk of developing other urothelial tumors if you have had previous bladder cancer. Your risk of bladder cancer may be increased if a family member has had the condition

Drinking water

Arsenic in drinking water may increase the risk of bladder cancer

Other drugs

Other cancer treatments, such as radiotherapy and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®), may increase the risk of bladder cancer. There may be a link between a medicine used to treat diabetes, pioglitazone (Actos®), and bladder cancer.

* In several regions, various generic versions of pioglitazone (Actos) are available.

What to Do If You Suspect Bladder Cancer

If you have any signs or symptoms of bladder cancer, or if you believe factors put you at elevated risk, reach out to your doctor. Talking openly about your symptoms and asking to be tested for bladder cancer can put you at ease and ensure you get the medical support you need.

When you talk with your doctor, ask whether Cxbladder could help rule out bladder cancer. For more information on our bladder cancer tests, contact one of our helpful representatives today.

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  • References

    1 Siemiatycki J, Richardson L, Straif K, et al. Listing occupational carcinogens. Environ Health Perspect 2004;112:1447–59.

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