An average of 75,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and when caught in the early stages, bladder cancer can be successfully treated. Adopting healthy habits like not smoking and avoiding certain chemicals like arsenic can greatly lower your risk and knowing the signs can be lifesaving. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Ahmed Eldefrawy, urologic oncologist at Miami Cancer Institute, part of Baptist Health South Florida who shares symptoms of bladder cancer to be aware of. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
What Should People Know About Bladder Cancer?
Dr. Eldefrawy says, "Bladder cancer can be divided into 2 distinct types: 1) superficial bladder cancer; and 2) muscle invasive bladder cancer. Superficial bladder cancer is less aggressive and usually treated endoscopically, which means using a camera through the urethra. It tends to come back and requires lifelong follow up. The muscle invasive type is where cancer grows deeper into the bladder wall to extend to the muscle layer of the bladder. This type is very aggressive and lethal. Removing the bladder is the standard of care with or without chemotherapy before surgery."
Blood in the Urine
Dr. Eldefrawy explains a sign that could indicate bladder cancer is, "Seeing blood in the urine, even if it happened once and resolved completely. Bleeding happens because bladder cancer is very vascular and like most cancers able to generate blood vessels to maintain high blood supply to the cancer. The more vascular tumors the higher the risk of bleeding."
Microscopic Red Blood Cells in Urine
Dr. Eldefrawy tells us, "If your yearly urine analysis by your PCP showed microscopic red blood cells in urine, if you do not see blood in urine, this could be a sign. Microscopic blood in urine is usually the first sign of cancer also due to the higher vascularity of the tumor compared to normal tissue."
Change in Urine Habits
According to Dr. Eldefrawy, "A sudden change in urination symptoms or pattern that persists, like increasing frequency or flow of urine," could indicate bladder. "Some common signs of bladder cancer often impact urination itself. These symptoms can include frequent urination, pain during urination, trouble urinating or feeling that you need to urinate right away when your bladder is not full. Additionally, patients can notice a change in the flow of their urine. A mass growing in the bladder can create symptoms like obstructing the flow of urine if the tumor is near the bladder outlet, or irrigative symptoms like frequency and urgency."
Loss of Appetite
"Loss of appetite and weight loss, fatigue, weakness and/or lower back pain on one side," are signs of bladder cancer, Dr. Eldefrawy states. "These can be symptoms of advanced bladder cancer. If experiencing these symptoms, especially a combination of these symptoms, it's important to see your primary care provider for an evaluation.