Bladder cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the United States. About 65,000 Americans are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year and 12-14,000 die annually of the disease. In recent decades there has been a steady increase in the incidence of bladder cancer. However, doctors are making progress in treatment and survival rates are improving.
Blood in the urine is the most common symptom. It eventually occurs in nearly all cases of bladder cancer and is generally described as "painless". Although the blood may be visible during urination, in most cases, it is invisible except under a microscope. In these, the blood is usually discovered when analyzing a urine sample as part of a routine examination. Blood in the urine, similar to blood in the stool or coughing up blood, is a potential warning sign of cancer, and should not be ignored.
Hematuria does not by itself indicate or confirm the presence of bladder cancer. Blood in the urine has many possible causes. For example, it may result from a urinary tract infection or kidney stones rather than from cancer. It is important to note that hematuria, particularly microscopic, might be entirely normal for some individuals. A diagnostic investigation is necessary to determine whether bladder cancer is present.
Other symptoms of bladder cancer may include frequent urination and pain upon urination (dysuria). Such "irritative" symptoms are less common. When present in the absence of a urinary infection (which may have similar or identical symptoms) exclusion of a bladder cancer as the possible cause is mandatory.
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