What women should know about bladder cancer

What women should know about bladder cancer

Karen S. was a long-time oncology nurse when she got her own cancer diagnosis at age 54. What she thought had been recurrent urinary tract infections was revealed to be bladder cancer.

This year, nearly 19,500 women nationwide will be diagnosed with bladder cancer. And while research shows that bladder cancer is more prevalent among men (more than 64,000 U.S. cases are diagnosed annually), women are typically diagnosed with more advanced tumors and have a worse outcome at nearly every stage of the condition. These outcomes could be due to attributing typical warning signs to other medical conditions, such as recurring urinary tract infections or blood in the urine, which is often thought to be associated with menstruation or menopause and, as a result, goes unreported to physicians for longer.

But for male and female patients, advancements in technology are significantly improving detection and disease management.

Cystoscopy, the gold standard diagnostic tool for bladder cancer detection, has historically been performed using only white light for visualizing suspicious lesions. Now, more doctors are recommending Blue Light Cystoscopy (BLC), a procedure that uses white and blue light. But not every facility offers BLC.

“I’m so grateful for the expertise at the bladder cancer center where I was treated and for my doctor choosing to use blue light technology for my diagnostic procedure,” says Karen.

An early bladder cancer diagnosis can give you more treatment options. If you have any of the following symptoms, experts advise consulting your doctor:

  • Blood or blood clots in the urine.
  • Pain or burning sensation during urination.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Feeling the need to urinate many times throughout the night, or feeling the need but not being able to pass urine.
  • Lower back pain on one side of the body.

For women in particular, sudden changes in urination habits can be signs of bladder cancer. Being vigilant at every age is critical. It was for Mary Beth M. who at first ignored the blood in her urine. When she eventually saw a urologist, she learned she had high-grade, non-muscle invasive bladder cancer with several tumors in her bladder.

“I never expected to be diagnosed with bladder cancer at 28. It’s so important to pay attention to the signs and symptoms, no matter how old you are,” says Mary Beth, who was also diagnosed using BLC.

Blue Light Cystoscopy is only at select locations. Ask your primary care physician or urologist for more information.

Early and thorough detection is crucial. No matter your age or gender, be aware of both the symptoms of bladder cancer and the latest technologies available in the detection and management of the disease.


Consulting with doctors is a key to an early diagnosis of bladder cancer.