Managing Bladder Cancer Symptoms and Side Effects
Last updated: February 2023
When living with bladder cancer, every day can look different. If you are currently in treatment, you might be dealing with side effects or symptoms like fatigue or pain. You might be experiencing some stress and anxiety about upcoming test results or scans. You might be doing great! Even if you are in remission, lingering after-effects could continue to impact how you feel.
What symptoms or side effects are you dealing with today?
We asked the BladderCancer.net community on our Facebook page, "What symptoms or side effects are you dealing with today?" We wanted to share some of the answers with you to show the spectrum of responses to this question.
"I cannot stop peeing"
One common bladder cancer symptom is frequent urination – having to go to the bathroom all the time! It can also be a side effect of some intravesical treatments (treatments that are delivered directly into the bladder). Making constant trips to the restroom can make it difficult to get things done or feel comfortable leaving the house to run errands. It can also make sleeping at night difficult if you have to get up several times to use the bathroom.
"Had my 3rd maintenance BCG today and I cannot stop peeing."
"After the 20th BCG, bathroom visits increased and have continued."
If frequent urination persists and disrupts your daily life, make sure you discuss the issue with your doctor! They can help you find ways to get it under control.
Pain, cramping, and spasms
If you have never experienced bladder spasms, it's hard to explain how uncomfortable or downright painful they can be. Many people with bladder cancer experience them during treatment, but some members of our community reported spasms years after treatment! Like other symptoms and side effects, be sure to report any issues to your doctor so they can find ways to help prevent spasms and manage pain.
"Intense bladder spasms for 6 years after radiation treatments."
"Pain, the cancer was gone, but now it has come back, burnt with radiation, have trouble going to the bathroom, have to force myself to eat."
Some people in the community have had bladder removal surgery for their cancer and now live with a urostomy. As a result, they mentioned dealing with urostomy leaks from time to time. For many people, leaks are a rare occurrence, but others deal with them more often. Leaks can make it stressful to go out, wear certain clothes, or travel. Some people only experience leaks at night and have yet to find the right equipment that works for them. Your doctor or a wound and ostomy care (WOC) nurse can help you if you experience frequent leaks. Finding the right bag can make a big difference and testing out different supplies might help.
"[Leaks] are just a part of life. I've tried different bags to no avail."
"I rarely have leaks and by that, I mean maybe once a year but probably less!"
Everyone is dealing with some bladder cancer side effects
No matter how you are feeling today, you are not alone. We want to thank everyone who responded to our question for sharing so openly about their day.
If you deal with any of the side effects we mentioned – or any we didn't – we would love to hear how you're doing today. And for those of you who aren't having any symptoms today, let us know that, too. We want to celebrate you feeling good! Tell us about your experience in the comments below, or share your story with the community.
How long did it take for you to receive a bladder cancer diagnosis?