Bladder cancer

The most common first symptom of bladder cancer is reddish urine.

Overview

The most common first symptom of bladder cancer is reddish urine. Urination can be difficult, painful and more frequent. Risk factors for bladder cancer include, in particular, chronic bladder infections and chemical substances such as tobacco and workplace pollutants, e.g. in the rubber industry. Preventive measures include protecting yourself against such substances and giving up smoking.

Symptoms

  • General
    • Average age: 65 to 70
    • Men are affected almost twice as often as women
  • Most common first symptom: blood in urine (reddish-brown urine, clots of blood)
  • Difficult and sometimes painful urination
  • Frequent urination, urinary urgency (i.e. urgent need to empty the bladder)
  • Pain and bladder cramps (lower abdomen)
  • Pain in the back or lower side
  • Weakness, constant fatigue
  • Weight loss, night sweats

Causes and treatment

Causes

The specific causes aren’t known. Possible risk factors include

  • Chronic bladder infections (cystitis)
  • Chemical substances
    • Tobacco consumption, tar, amines
    • Workplace pollutants. Typical risk professions: car paint specialist, dental technician, rubber industry, hairdresser
  • Medication to suppress the immune system
  • Radiation therapy

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Urine test
  • Blood test
  • Ultrasound
  • Bladder endoscopy with biopsy
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
Possible therapies
  • Localised tumours
    • Localised removal during endoscopy
    • Localised chemotherapy, if necessary
  • Advanced tumours
    • Surgical removal of the bladder, if necessary together with the prostate and seminal vesicle
    • Solution for urinary drainage (e.g. new bladder created from a small section of the bowel)
    • Chemotherapy before (possibly) and after the operation
  • Regular follow-up examinations

What can I do myself?

  • Reduce and stop consumption of tobacco
  • Protect against workplace pollutants
  • If symptoms occur, go to doctor without delay (see below)
  • Bladder cramps: warm compresses on lower abdomen

When to see a doctor?

  • Reddish-brown urine
  • Pain and difficulty when urinating
  • Impossible to empty the bladder
  • Pain in the back or lower side
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Bladder infection (particularly in older people)

Further information

Krebsliga Schweiz (Swiss Cancer League)
www.krebsliga.ch

Synonyms

bladder cancer, bladder carcinoma, urothelial carcinoma, cancer of the bladder

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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