Symptoms of bladder cancer are the same in men and women, but men are much more likely to develop it. Blood in your urine is the most common symptom, but other urinary problems or less common symptoms can also occur.
Bladder cancer in men happens when cancerous tissue grows in or around the bladder, which stores urine until you pee. Bladder cancer is
Bladder cancer can be curable if you find it early. Many symptoms can help you identify it in its early stages.
Read on to learn how to recognize the most common symptoms of bladder cancer in men, how to identify some less common symptoms, and when it’s time to contact a doctor to confirm a diagnosis.
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article uses the term “men” to reflect a term that has been historically used to gender people. It’s important to note that not everyone assigned male at birth identifies with the label “man.”
While we aim to create content that includes and reflects the diversity of our readers, specificity is key when reporting on research participants and clinical findings.
Unfortunately, the studies and surveys referenced in this article didn’t include data on, or include, participants who were transgender, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, agender, or genderless.
The earliest sign of bladder cancer is usually blood that’s visible in your urine, also known as hematuria.
A little bit of discoloration in your urine isn’t that uncommon. A groin injury or eating certain foods, such as beets, can make your urine look unusually dark or pink. This discoloration often goes away in a few days.
But if you notice discoloration for several weeks or your urine looks darker over time, you may be experiencing gross hematuria. This means that blood is clearly visible in your urine, and you should contact a doctor.
You may also have blood in your urine that’s not visible. This is called microscopic hematuria, meaning that only a laboratory urine test (or urinalysis) can identify traces of blood during a physical exam. In this case, a doctor may recommend further tests to confirm the source of the blood in your urine.
In its early stages, bladder cancer can also cause changes to your urination habits or the sensations you feel when you pee. This is usually due to the tumor irritating your bladder. In rare cases where cancer spreads to your urethra, it may also cause obstruction.
The symptoms of bladder cancer can often resemble symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) or another condition. It’s important to consult a healthcare professional so they can accurately identify the cause.
Here are some of the most common urinary problems that occur when bladder cancer is developing
Painful urination (dysuria)
Dysuria means that you feel pain when you pee. You may feel this pain as a burning or stinging sensation when urine is coming out of your urethra.
You may also notice pain or discomfort higher up near your bladder or around and below the scrotum near your perineum. That’s the small area of skin between your scrotum and your anus.
You may feel the need to pee a lot more often. But when you go, you may only be voiding small amounts of urine. This is because the tumor may be irritating your bladder, causing it to not hold as much as it usually does.
Frequent urination is also a common symptom of an overactive bladder.
Excessive urination (polyuria)
Polyuria may also mean that you’re peeing a lot more than is typical for you. But rather than frequent small amounts, you’re releasing much larger amounts of urine every time you pee and spending more time at the toilet than you’re used to.
About 2 liters (a little over half a gallon) is a typical amount to pee each day. Polyuria means that you’re peeing more than 2.5 liters a day, especially if you haven’t made any major changes to your dietary or liquid consumption habits.
Polyuria is also a common symptom of diabetes and many other noncancerous medical conditions.
Nighttime urination (nocturia)
Nocturia means you’re getting up in the middle of the night a lot to pee.
Getting up at least once during the night to pee isn’t that unusual. But you may be experiencing nocturia if you need to get up twice or more every night to pee. Polyuria causes this to occur even if you’ve reduced how much you drink before bed or if you’ve peed a few times before bed.
Urinary urgency means you have a sudden strong urge to urinate, even if you haven’t had a lot of liquids or after you’ve just peed.
Urinary urgency can also lead to urine leakage, especially if you aren’t able to pee after you begin feeling the urge. These symptoms can mean that you have an overactive bladder, but they’re also common early signs of bladder cancer in men.
Urinary hesitancy means that you have trouble getting urine to come out when you pee, even if you’re flexing or relaxing your pelvic muscles to let pee out.
Urinary hesitancy can also mean that you have trouble keeping your urine coming out in a consistent flow after you’ve begun peeing.
However, urinary hesitancy is more likely to be a symptom of an obstruction in your bladder, usually due to an enlarged prostate.
Some symptoms of bladder cancer in men are less obvious. You might overlook them as resulting from daily life.
However, these symptoms should prompt you to get medical help if you notice them, along with pain when you pee or major changes to your urination habits.
Fatigue refers to a general feeling of being tired, run-down, or having low energy, but not necessarily sleepy.
Fatigue is especially a cause for concern if you feel this way even when you haven’t done much to expend your energy, such as exercise. It may also be concerning if it suddenly happens after you’ve felt a consistently high or typical energy level for a long period.
Abdominal pain that happens suddenly for no obvious reason or doesn’t go away after a short period is a cause for concern.
You’ll usually feel abdominal pain associated with bladder cancer in your lower abdomen. Abdominal pain may spread outward or get worse over time if cancerous tissue begins to spread (metastasize) to other tissues.
Loss of appetite
A sudden loss of appetite is often a symptom of bladder cancer. It’s especially common if cancerous tissue has spread beyond your bladder to nearby organs such as your colon, bones, or lungs.
Abnormal weight loss is a common symptom of an underlying illness or condition, including bladder cancer.
It’s not unusual for your weight to fluctuate a few pounds up or down throughout your life. But losing a significant amount of weight suddenly — especially without making any major changes to your diet or exercise routine — should prompt a visit to a doctor.
Pelvic pain can have many causes, such as an injury or a hernia.
Pelvic pain that results from bladder cancer is typically the result of a UTI, bladder inflammation, or constriction on your bladder or urethra from cancerous tissues.
Pelvic pain that happens along with pain when you pee or have difficulty peeing is also a possible sign of bladder cancer.
People often report bone pain as being felt deep in the body, especially at night or when using the affected body part.
With bladder cancer, you typically feel bone pain near the bladder and in the lower abdomen. It occurs when cancerous tissues metastasize into nearby bones, such as your:
- lower spinal vertebrae
- upper thighs
Leg swelling happens when fluid builds up in your lower legs. It’s also known as edema.
Bladder cancer can block the ureteral orifices, where your ureters open into your bladder. This blockage can lead to kidney failure. This failure affects your kidneys’ ability to process liquids and other waste that typically leaves the body through your urine.
This symptom can also mean that cancer is pushing on or blocking lymph nodes in your lower abdomen. This can stop lymph fluid from draining nearby tissues and organs and cause it to pool in your legs, resulting in swelling known as lymphedema.
Contact a doctor right away if you notice any of the following:
- You feel the need to pee frequently and urgently.
- You experience significant or extreme pain when you urinate.
- You have a lot of trouble starting to pee or keeping a steady stream.
- You’re not able to pee at all.
- You experience extreme, inexplicable pain in your lower abdomen or pelvic area.
- You have swelling in your lower body.
- You feel fatigued without an obvious cause.
- You’re not able to eat without a lot of effort.
- You lose a lot of weight quickly without an obvious cause.
- You feel pain in your lower back on one side.
Bladder cancer is four times more common in men than women. But with early detection, it’s treatable.
You may overlook many of the early, common symptoms of bladder cancer, especially as you age and experience typical changes to your urination habits.
Contact a doctor right away if you notice blood in your urine, have trouble peeing, and notice any other major changes in your body, such as pain in your abdomen or pelvis.