Unless you’re over the age of 45, you probably don’t give your bladder much thought. As people age, however, the bladder ages, too. The bladder becomes less elastic as the years go by, which makes the bladder walls tougher and less expandable. Little by little, a reduction occurs in the amount of urine a bladder can hold. The pelvic floor also weakens, allowing urine to leak.
Along with decreased urine retention and urine leakage, the risk for other bladder problems also increases with age. Although bladder infections, lower urinary tract infections, and bladder cancer can occur at any age, the chances are higher as a person gets older. Of all these bladder issues, bladder cancer is the most worrisome.
Bladder cancer begins when cells in the bladder begin to grow out of control and may develop into a tumor. Cancer cells from bladder cancer may spread to other parts of the body. Most bladder cancers start in the innermost layer of the bladder, eventually growing outwards.
According to the American Cancer Society, the average age of adults when they receive a bladder cancer diagnosis is 73. About 90 percent of all bladder cancers develop in people over 55. Men are more likely to develop bladder cancer, with 1 out of 27 men versus 1 out of 89 women. Bladder cancer can be lethal — in 2021, about 17,200 deaths resulted from bladder cancer.
Despite a higher risk in older individuals, all adults should be on the lookout for the silent signs of bladder cancer. Here are seven indicators of bladder cancer that are easy to miss:
7. Blood in Urine
The most common sign of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. Unfortunately, blood in the urine also occurs in many other urinary tract conditions other than bladder cancer, masking the true source of the symptom. And in the case of bladder cancer, the appearance of blood in the urine can take on many forms. The blood might be so scant that it’s difficult to detect, or there could be so much that the urine looks bright red. Sometimes, the blood can color the urine dark brown or appear in small clumps. Regardless of how blood presents itself in the urine, a visit to a physician is recommended.
6. Pain When Urinating
Like blood in the urine, pain or a burning sensation while urinating might indicate urinary tract problems other than bladder cancer. However, if pain or burning happens along with other symptoms on the list, getting checked by a health professional can find the root cause.