Bladder cancer is the 4th most diagnosed cancer in VA.

Approximately 3,200 Veterans are diagnosed with bladder cancer every year. Bladder cancer happens when the cells in the bladder start to grow out of control. Most tumors develop on the inner layer of the bladder. As the cancer grows into deeper layers, it becomes more difficult to treat.

Since early diagnosis is critical to successful treatment and recovery, VA encourages Veterans to talk to their health care provider about the signs and symptoms of bladder cancer.

Signs and symptoms

Signs of bladder cancer can be embarrassing to discuss, but it’s important to talk with your provider as soon as possible if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Blood in the urine; painful or urgent urination; inability to urinate.
  • Abdominal pain; lower back pain.
  • Fatigue.
  • Appetite or weight loss.

Identifying bladder cancer early is important for successful treatment and recovery. Don’t wait to discuss these symptoms with your provider.

Exposure risks for Veterans: Agent Orange, PFAS and Camp LeJeune

Smoking is the most common risk factor for bladder cancer. In addition, some Veterans may be at higher risk of developing bladder cancer than the general population due to their exposure to certain chemicals during their military service.

If you have been exposed to any of the following, be aware that you may be at higher risk of developing this type of cancer:

If you’re not sure what environmental exposures you may have experienced during your time in the military, there are dedicated VA resources available to help you. Talk to your VA health care provider or contact your local VA Environmental Health Coordinator.

Choosing VA for your cancer care

VA is focused on helping Veterans with cancer live better lives. VA doctors provide or support finding the best treatment for your cancer care needs. All VA providers stand shoulder to shoulder with Veterans and support them on every step of their cancer journey.

To learn more about cancer care at VA, visit or email

Cancer prevention during COVID-19

While COVID-19 is an ongoing concern, VA is taking precautions at all VA medical centers to protect you from the virus. Catching cancer early is an important part of successful treatment, so don’t ignore concerning symptoms of bladder cancer out of concern for COVID-19. VA is taking every measure to protect your health.

By Courtney Franchio is a program manager with VA’s National Oncology Program

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Published on May. 11, 2022

Estimated reading time is 2.6 min.

Views to date: 376


  1. Joseph Scanlon May 19, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    Given that I was an Air Force Firefighter and worked with foam will the VA screen for Bladder Cancer?

  2. DocHopp May 18, 2022 at 6:09 pm

    Brother’s please be sure you are asking your Urologist to perform Blue Light Cystoscopy with Cysview for your annual / bi-annual flexible cystoscopies. Most VAMC’s have the capability now and it is a critical diagnosis tool for your continuum of care and, in keeping from potential unnecessary random bladder biopsies and TURBT’s.

  3. Michael Venuto May 17, 2022 at 5:50 pm

    Have some of the above symptoms. But not all. Served in Vietnam as advisor to ARVN Ranger Bn at a base camp in Phu My. It was sprayed with Agent Orange not a blade of grass grew in our base camp area that was surrounded by jungle and marsh. We drank our well water and showered under a 55gal. can either same water. All of us experienced that everyday for months.

  4. JG May 13, 2022 at 4:12 am

    You should get regularly examined, because you don’t want to wear a urostomy bag around your stomach the rest of your days.

  5. Theodore D Wilming Jr. May 12, 2022 at 5:59 pm

    Had stage 4 Bladder Cancer, it had metastasized to the prostate and lymph nodes. I am a retired CPO USCG, I smoked pipe, cigars on occasion, but not cigarettes. I also retired from the fire service. Robotic Surgery in 2020 removed all, had chemotherapy along with Keytruda, I have received a clear report from the doctors in February, 2022

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