What is the First Sign of Bladder Cancer?

As the sixth leading type of cancer in the United States, bladder cancer can be difficult to diagnose and treat. It also has a high rate of recurrence, especially when detected late or not treated correctly. In this blog, we discuss the most typical symptoms of bladder cancer and introduce you to our revolutionary new diagnostic tool Blue Light Cystoscopy (BLC).

Blood in Urine is Often the First Sign of Bladder Cancer

You could potentially have bladder cancer if you notice blood that appears pink, orange, or dark red in your urine. However, some people present with other symptoms first because their urine color continues to remain normal. Only trace amounts of blood appear when they complete a urinalysis test at the doctor. It is also common for the blood to appear sporadically. You may have discharge one day, nothing for several days, and then discharge again for many days in a row. You could even have clear urine for months.

It is not common to experience other symptoms at this early stage of bladder cancer. Try not to panic if you do spot blood because there could be another explanation such as an infection, kidney stones, or a benign tumor. The only way to know for sure what is causing the bleeding is to schedule an appointment with Dr. Grant Franklin, Jr. or Dr. Viacheslav Iremashvili at UHC Urology.

Watch for These Bladder Habit Changes

Bladder cancer typically causes noticeable changes in your urination habits. Examples include:

  • Burning or other painful sensations while urinating
  • Difficulty initiating urination
  • Getting up several times each night to empty your bladder
  • Urinary urgency, which means you feel like you need to go to the bathroom immediately but produce little or no urine when you do
  • Weak stream of urine

These symptoms could also indicate bladder stones, a urinary tract infection (UTI), overactive bladder, or an enlarged prostate in men. Be sure to take notes of your symptoms and discuss them with Dr. Franklin, Jr. or Dr. Iremashvili during your appointment.

Indications of Advanced Bladder Cancer

You will experience a worsening of symptoms if you have undetected bladder cancer that has multiplied or spread to other areas of your body. The most common ones include:

  • Bone pain
  • Fatigue
  • Feet swelling
  • Inability to urinate
  • Loss of appetite resulting in weight loss
  • Weakness

We offer the same advice here that we stated with earlier symptoms of bladder cancer. Do not panic, but be sure to schedule an appointment in the urology department at UHC as soon as possible.

What to Expect during Your Visit with UHC Urology

Dr. Franklin, Jr. or Dr. Iremashvili will first ask you questions about your complete medical history. This includes evaluating your risk factors for bladder cancer like having a close blood relative with the same condition. You should also expect to undergo a physical exam and provide a urine sample. Our laboratory technicians will analyze your urine sample to look for blood, cancer cells, or any other unusual substances.

Earlier Detection and Better Outcomes for Bladder Cancer Patients with Blue Light Cystoscopy

Compared to standard imaging tests and white light cystoscopy (WLC), BLC is far more effective in providing urologists with an early and accurate diagnosis of bladder cancer. Specifically, it helps urologists detect invasive bladder tumors in non-muscle areas.

United Hospital Center is the only medical provider in the region of Southwest Pennsylvania and North Central West Virginia to offer this technology. Other urologists still rely on WLC while performing transurethral resection of bladder tumors. The problem with WLC is that it can miss many small or hidden tumors in the bladder because these can be hard to see.

During a procedure with BLC, Dr. Franklin or Dr. Iremashvili places a device called Cysview into your bladder with a catheter. This takes place approximately one hour before you have a cystoscopy. Your urologist begins with the white light first before switching to the blue light. The Cysview illuminates tumors in a bright fluorescent pink color, allowing your doctor to see problem areas much more clearly. That means earlier and more accurate diagnosis and starting treatment for bladder cancer as soon as possible.

According to the American Cancer Society, bladder cancer in situ has a five-year survival rate of 96 percent. In situ means that the cancer remains only in the cells where it originally started. This drops to 70 percent when the cancer cells remain within the bladder, 36 percent when cancer spreads to nearby lymph nodes or nearby structures, and only five percent when it spreads to other parts of the body such as the bones, liver, or lungs. These figures only underscore the critical importance of early and accurate detection of bladder cancer, something that is much more likely with BLC than other types of diagnostic equipment.

Request an Appointment with UHC Urology Today

If you are concerned that you have symptoms of bladder cancer, please do not hesitate to contact us at 681-342-3660 to request an appointment with Dr. Franklin or Dr. Iremashvili. Your doctor will complete a thorough investigation of your symptoms and follow up with you regarding a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Please note, the information provided throughout this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and video, on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. If you are experiencing related symptoms, please visit your doctor or call 9-1-1 in an emergency.