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Bladder cancer symptoms

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This page tells you about the symptoms of bladder cancer. You can find information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Bladder cancer symptoms

The most common symptom of bladder cancer is blood in pee (the urine). Doctors call this haematuria. It is not usually painful. The blood may not be there all the time. It can come and go. If you ever see blood in your pee, it is important to see your doctor.

Sometimes the amounts of blood are so small that you cannot see them. Even if it can’t be seen, blood can be picked up in a urine test.

Other symptoms

There can be other symptoms of bladder cancer. These are

  • Needing to pee very often
  • Needing to pee very suddenly
  • Pain when passing urine

With these symptoms you are much more likely to have a urinary infection, not cancer. But it is important to tell your doctor about them straight away.

 

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Blood in the urine

Blood in pee is the most common symptom of bladder cancer. 4 out of 5 people with bladder cancer (80%) have some blood in their urine. You may actually see the blood. It usually looks bright red but, rarely, may be dark brown. Or it might be there in such small amounts that you can't see it. Even if it cannot be seen, a urine test will show if blood is present. Doctors call blood in pee 'haematuria' (pronounced heem-at-you-ree-ah).

The blood may not be there all the time. It can come and go. So if you ever see blood in your pee, you should go to your GP.

The bleeding is not usually painful. But it can help your doctor to diagnose you if you can say whether you had any pain when you passed the urine with the blood in it. It can also help if you know whether there is blood only when you start to pee or whether the blood is mixed with all the urine you pass.

 

Other symptoms

There can be other symptoms of bladder cancer. These are

  • Frequency, which means needing to pass urine very often
  • Urgency, which means needing to pass urine very suddenly
  • Pain when passing urine

If you have these symptoms you will not necessarily have cancer. You are more likely to have a urine infection, particularly if you do not have blood in your urine. If you are a man the symptoms could be caused by an enlarged prostate gland. But you should always tell your doctor straight away if you have these symptoms. If you have an infection, then it can usually be cleared up with antibiotics very quickly. If it is cancer, then the sooner it is diagnosed, the easier it will be to treat.

 

Guidelines

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced guidelines for GPs in the UK. The guidelines help GPs to decide which patients need to be seen urgently by a specialist. These guidelines on referrals for bladder cancer are available on the NICE website. Go to the site and type 'referral guidelines' into the search box.

 

More information

The earlier a cancer is picked up, the easier it is to treat it and the more likely the treatment is to be successful. So it is important that you go to your GP as soon as possible if you notice worrying symptoms.

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Updated: 25 September 2013