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What Are the Symptoms of Bladder Cancer in Women?

Autumn Rivers
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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While men are generally more likely than women to get bladder cancer, women diagnosed with this condition tend to have lower survival rates than men. Knowing the typical symptoms of bladder cancer in women can help a person recognize a potential problem and seek help earlier. Blood in the urine is one of the most common symptoms, but it is not always visible, so women may have to rely on additional signs of bladder cancer. A burning sensation during urination may be present, as may increases in both the frequency and urgency of urination. Symptoms of late-stage bladder cancer in women include flank pain, a distended bladder and discomfort in the bones or other parts of the body.

The main symptom of abnormal cells in the bladder is blood in the urine. In some cases, there is enough blood to turn the urine pink or orange, making it obvious that something is wrong. Other times, a woman may never see the blood in her urine, which can result in a delayed diagnosis of bladder cancer. Despite the fact that the blood is not easily visible, it can be detected by a urine test at the doctor's office. This symptom is called microscopic hematuria.

In general, the other symptoms of bladder cancer in women are similar to the signs of a bladder infection, except they do not disappear with antibiotics. One example is a burning sensation during urination, which is often felt whether there is a malignant tumor present or just a bacterial infection. The urge to urinate may be felt more often than usual, even though the amount of urine may not have changed, leading to frequent yet short sessions in the restroom. Some women also notice an increase in urgency, meaning they cannot wait too long to relieve themselves after the urge hits.

Some symptoms of bladder cancer indicate the disease is rather advanced. For instance, some women may have a swollen bladder that is caused by a malignant tumor blocking the neck of the bladder. Flank pain may also occur if the urine is unable to flow from the kidney to the bladder as the result a tumor blocking its way. Additionally, some women may notice pain in other areas of the body, such as the bones, once the cancer has spread. To avoid enduring these signs of late-stage bladder cancer in women, women are advised to see a doctor if they notice the initial symptoms, so they can get tests done to determine whether the issue is cancer or a simple infection.

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Autumn Rivers
By Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for TheHealthBoard, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.

Discussion Comments

By Islandsue — On Jul 09, 2014

My mom is in home hospice and I'm care taking her. She had chronic bladder infections that caused her cancer. If her doctor had checked her physically (cystoscope) sooner, she might not be suffering from stage IV bladder cancer.

Often times, with the elderly (my mom is 85), they don't talk about bodily functions. We did not know she had been silently suffering with bladder infections!

We found out she had a mass on her bladder the day before Mother's Day when she fell in her kitchen. The CT scan revealed no broken bones, but the doctor told us to follow up with her urologist.

I got an appointment the day after Mother's Day by walking into the doctor's office and explained I lived out of state and my mom must be seen immediately. The doctor showed me the large, invasive, fast-growing cancer right there in the exam room by inserting a tube in her urethra.

I have made a decision to live with her till she passes away. So sad.

By julies — On Aug 11, 2012

What are the bladder cancer survival rates for women? I have a aunt who was recently diagnosed with this, and it doesn't sound very good.

By the time they found this cancer, they said she had probably had it for quite some time. I don't know how long she had symptoms before being seen, but I sure hope she beat this.

By LisaLou — On Aug 10, 2012

What scares me is the hematuria or blood in your urine. Many times when I have to give a urine sample, they tell me I have blood in my urine.

Once when I was applying for some life insurance, I had to go through all kinds of tests to rule out bladder cancer because of this. I was told that the signs and symptoms of bladder cancer in women can sometimes be difficult to diagnose.

Many times it is a process of eliminating other problems first. Thankfully all my tests came out OK, and I was issued a policy, but it is something that it always at the back of my mind.

By sunshined — On Aug 10, 2012

I have never personally known a woman who has had bladder cancer, but I remember reading that this is a tough cancer to treat. It sounds like many of the bladder cancer symptoms don't appear until the cancer is in a later stage.

I am one of those people whose mind always thinks the worst when I have any kind of ache or pain. It is hard to know when to make an appointment to get something checked out, or to wait and see if the symptoms go away in a short period of time.

By SarahSon — On Aug 09, 2012

Many of the bladder cancer symptoms in women sound similar to the symptoms I have when I get a urinary tract infection. The only positive thing is that antibiotics always quickly clear up my infection.

It still makes you wonder if women who get frequent urinary tract infections, would be more apt to get bladder cancer?

I have a history of frequent urinary tract infections, and think I will ask my doctor this the next time I am seen for one.

Autumn Rivers

Autumn Rivers

Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for TheHealthBoard, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
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