Bladder cancer is frequently overlookedAndrey_Popov/Shutterstock
Bladder cancer symptoms are subtle, especially in women. Men may see some blood in their urine—it may be pinkish or even red in color. Women get that too, along with painful urination. Unfortunately, the symptoms are similar to getting a urinary tract infection—a UTI. (Women may also think they’re simply getting their period.) “Patients are often treated multiple times and for many months for a chronic UTI,” says Arjun Balar, MD, medical oncologist and the director of Genitourinary Medical Oncology Program at NYU Langone Medical Center. It’s not until symptoms get much worse—where you’re seeing much more blood and experiencing pelvic pain and discomfort—that cancer even comes on the radar. “Women will say ‘this feels unlike any UTI I’ve ever had,” he explains. Learn about other common reasons you may get a UTI.
Men are at higher risk…Zurijeta/Shutterstock
The disease is more common in men—their cases outpace women by three to one. Although the American Cancer Society reports that rates of this cancer have been dropping in women, recent research indicates that some women are actually at an increased risk: Occupations that expose women to certain chemicals—hair stylist being one—may put them at an increased risk for the disease, according to a 2015 study in JAMA Oncology, though the uptick may also be due to increased screening and detection, the researchers note.