Unfortunately there are no early bladder cancer symptoms. The most common sign of a patient with bladder cancer is blood in the urine, which can be visible to the eye or might be present microscopically . Fortunately with the microstix method of testing urine in the doctor’s office even the asymptomatic microscopic hematuria (=means “blood in urine”) can be detected. Only about 1/3 of patients will complain of bladder irritation. Often in these cases carcinoma in situ is present.
With pelvic pain as a symptom, this often is due to a large tumor mass, pelvic lymph gland metastases or the pinching of a nerve root from encasing cancer tissue. A blocked ureter may indicate obstruction from cancer tissue that spreads (pelvic metastases) and this produces flank pain on the side where the ureter is blocked. If the bladder cancer spreads to the back it can affect the flow of stool and constipation or even rectal obstruction can occur. At times the pelvic metastases exert pressure on the lymphatic or venous drainage from one or both legs and leg swelling can be the very first sign that there is an otherwise asymptomatic bladder cancer.
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