Bladder cancer is one of the most common types of cancers that can affect men and women. It can also be one of the most serious. The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2020, there were 725,549 people living with bladder cancer in the United States. When diagnosed and treated at its early onset, bladder cancer has a high recovery rate. However, when the diagnosis of bladder cancer is delayed, it can cause a lot of damage and even spread to the body’s essential organs. Diagnosing bladder cancer early could be key to starting treatment at the right time, but what symptoms could signal that it’s time to make a doctor’s appointment to check for potential bladder cancer? Here’s what you should know about how to detect bladder cancer, and which symptoms could signal danger in the body.
How to Detect Bladder Cancer
Lower back pain, repetitive urinary infections, or blood in the urine are some of the serious symptoms that warrant a doctor’s appointment to check for bladder cancer.
How Potential Bladder Cancer is Tested For
The two most common ways to test for bladder cancer, are via a urine sample or through a blood screening. Both urine samples and blood screenings test for the presence of the antibodies the body would produce if cancer were present.
Imaging tests such as scans and X-rays can also sometimes signal the presence of potentially cancerous cells that aren’t supposed to show up in normal tissue. In this case, medical staff often chooses to order further tests to establish if this could be harmful (or not).
If you notice any changes in your health, seek medical attention. The internet cannot provide reliable medical advice, though it can offer guidance on what to look for (or think about) before seeing your doctor.
Lower Back Pain
The bladder is seated in the lower part of the body, where it connects to the kidneys and urethra. Bladder cancer can sometimes cause pain or discomfort that radiates to other parts of the body - and pain which might appear to come from somewhere else.
Lower back pain isn’t always muscular and might be a sign that there’s something wrong deeper inside the body.
Repetitive Urinary Tract Infections
Bladder cancer can cause repetitive urinary tract infections which are difficult to treat, and for which no other seeming cause can be found.
Sometimes more than one bladder infection in a row can be an early sign of bladder cancer. Speak to your doctor if you have treated more than one bladder or urinary tract infection in the past few months.
Blood in Urine or Dark Urination
Bladder conditions can present with blood in the urine or darker urination. Bladder cancer is only one potential cause of this symptom. However, dark urine could also be caused by dehydration, diet, injury, or certain medications.
See your doctor if you experience blood in your urine. Consider an appointment with your doctor a high priority if you can combine several symptoms on this list.
Learn more: Meaning Behind Color of Your Urine
Glands run throughout the body, going from the neck down to the legs. These glands are essential parts of the body’s defense against viruses and bacteria. Swelling is an indication that the immune system is working overtime to protect against something in the body.
Cancer can trigger the immune system to respond, and glandular swelling is an important symptom to look for.
Swelling or Discomfort
Swelling or discomfort in the region of the bladder can also be an early warning sign of bladder cancer. This can signal that the lining has begun to react to the presence of foreign cells - and sometimes, this symptom could be more serious.
If you experience inflammation of the bladder and constant swelling or discomfort, it’s safer to see your doctor to find out the potential cause.
Changes in Urination Frequency
If you are used to going to the bathroom just once or twice every couple of hours, and this suddenly increases to having to get up every twenty minutes, that’s a reason to be concerned for your health.
Changes in urination frequency could be an early sign of bladder infection. In fact, sudden changes could be an early warning sign of bladder cancer too.
See your doctor if you experience any changes in how often you should urinate, or feel pain and discomfort when you do.
Early diagnosis is key to finding treatment for most cancer types, including bladder cancer.
Bladder Cancer Awareness Month
In the month of May every year, the bladder cancer community comes together to observe Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. The main goal is to raise awareness about the disease and generate essential funds for bladder cancer research, patient education, and support. Bladder Cancer Awareness Month also provides an opportunity for patients, caregivers, and loved ones to share their personal stories and honor those affected by this devastating illness.
Bladder Cancer Awareness Month is a month-long campaign dedicated to increasing awareness about bladder cancer, sharing resources and information, and providing support to patients, caregivers, survivors, and healthcare professionals affected by this widespread disease.
Additional Information: Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging - American Cancer Society
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