Bladder cancer: The sign in your back 'that can signal a problem' – symptoms

Cancer Research UK says that bladder cancer is the 11th most common cancer in the UK, and the eighth most common cancer in men. The bladder is part of the urinary system, which filters waste products out of your blood and makes urine. If bladder cancer spreads to other parts of the body, such as other organs, it’s known as metastatic bladder cancer. Many of the signs of bladder cancer can show in your urine, but there are also a number of other signs which some people may experience.

The NHS says the most common symptom of bladder cancer is blood in urine, “which is usually painless”.

It says: “If you notice blood in your urine, even if it comes and goes, you should visit your GP, so the cause can be investigated.”

The medical name for blood in your urine is haematuria. You may notice streaks of blood in your urine or the blood may turn your urine brown.

Cancer Research UK says blood in the urine is the most common symptom of bladder cancer, with about eight in 10 people with bladder cancer having some blood in their urine.

READ MORE: Pancreatic cancer symptoms: A sign when you go to the toilet of the ‘silent disease’

Having blood in your urine will not mean you definitely have bladder cancer, as there are more common causes including urinary tract infections or kidney stones, for example.

The NHS says less common symptoms of bladder cancer include a need to urinate on a more frequent basis, sudden urges to urinate, and a burning sensation when passing urine.

The health body notes that if bladder cancer reaches an advanced stage and has spread, symptoms can include pelvic pain, bone pain, unintentional weight loss, and swelling of the legs.

Cancer.Net has outlined some information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology around some other signs, one of which can occur in your back.


The organisation says lower back pain on one side of the body can “signal a problem that may need medical care”.

It adds that sometimes when the first symptoms of bladder cancer appear, the cancer has spread to another part of the body.

This will mean the symptoms depend on where the cancer has spread.

The organisation states: “For example, cancer that has spread to the lungs may cause a cough or shortness of breath, spread to the liver may cause abdominal pain or jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes), and spread to the bone may cause bone pain or a fracture (broken bone).”

It adds that other symptoms of advanced bladder cancer may include pain in the back or pelvis, unexplained appetite loss, and weight loss.

Cancer Research UK says that bladder cancer usually takes a long time to develop, so it is most common in older people.

Almost 60 percent of new cases are in people aged 75 and over, and it is rare in people under 40.

The charity states: “More men than women get bladder cancer. This may just be because more men than women have smoked or been exposed to chemicals at work in recent decades.”

It adds that you should see your doctor “if you notice a change that isn’t normal for you” or if you have any of the possible signs and symptoms of cancer.

The NHS says most cases of bladder cancer appear to be caused by exposure to harmful substances, which lead to abnormal changes in the bladder’s cells over many years.

Tobacco smoke is a common cause and it’s estimated that more than one in three cases of bladder cancer are caused by smoking.

Exposure to certain industrial chemicals is the second biggest risk factor. Studies have estimated that this may account for around 25 percent of cases.


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