A doctor examining a patient.

May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. Bladder cancer, a type of cancer that forms in the tissue of the bladder, is the fourth most common cancer in men. Despite this, bladder cancer awareness remains surprisingly low. It is important to understand the symptoms of bladder cancer and who it affects, as well as measures you can take to prevent it.

The American Cancer Society lists the most common symptoms of bladder cancer:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Changes in bladder habits or symptoms of irritation
    • Having to urinate more frequently
    • Pain or burning during urination
    • Having trouble urinating or having a weak urine stream
    • Feeling as if you need to go right away, even when the bladder is not full

Symptoms of advanced bladder cancer include:

  • Being unable to urinate
  • Lower back pain on one side
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Swelling in the feet
  • Bone pain

Understanding the symptoms of bladder cancer can lead to early detection, which improves the chances of being treated successfully. Often times, these symptoms are caused by a multitude of things other than bladder cancer, but it is still important to have them checked so that the cause can be found and treated if need be.

The American Cancer Society also lists some statistics that we should be aware of:

  • Smokers are 3 times more likely to get bladder cancer than nonsmokers.
  • About 9 out of 10 people with bladder cancer are over the age of 55.
  • Men are about 3 to 4 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than women.
  • Whites are about 2 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than African Americans and Hispanics.

Jeffery Nix, M.D., assistant professor in the UAB Department of Urology and associate scientist in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center says, "For bladder cancer patients, median age of diagnosis is 75. About 50 percent of cases are related to smoking, so they'll have other health issues as well. They also have high complication rates after surgery."

Why UAB?

The UAB urology program is one of the few nationally ranked urology programs in the Southeast. Patients that choose the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center for their genitourinary cancer will receive treatment from highly reputable urologists, as well as a personal care plan that utilizes the latest technology and techniques.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, visit UAB Medicine.