People often ignore small things while managing hectic routines, which can lead to larger problems. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are very common and can be caused due to bad personal hygiene, diabetes, kidney stones besides other issues. Some people experience recurrent UTI which they may think as normal, could be a sign of bladder cancer. Since the symptoms of both conditions are very similar, it becomes difficult to find out about cancer on time. We got Dr. Sreedhar Reddy, Urologist at Apollo Spectra Hospital, Bangalore to shed more light on this topic and how people with recurrent UTI problems can prevent bladder cancer.
Link Between UTI and Bladder Cancer
UTIs are classified into two types: cystitis and urethritis. A bladder infection is referred to as cystitis while urethritis is a urethral infection. Even though UTIs are extremely common, they must be taken seriously when it is a recurrent condition. The symptoms of UTI are very similar to that of Bladder Cancer and it can become a potential cause for delay in diagnosis. If diagnosed early, bladder cancer is highly treatable and can be cured.
The bladder is a hollow, flexible pouch located in the lower abdomen. Its primary function is to store urine before it exits the body. Bladder cancer is a common type of cancer that starts in the bladder cells. Bladder cancer typically begins in the cells that line the inside of the bladder (urothelial cells). Urothelial cells can also be found in the kidneys and the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder (ureters). Urothelial cancer can occur in the kidneys and ureters, but it is far more common in the bladder.
Common Symptoms of UTI and Bladder Cancer
The symptoms of bladder cancer may be similar to those of a urinary tract infection making a timely diagnosis difficult. Below are the symptoms of UTI and Bladder Cancer, there are a few early warning signs that can distinguish between UTIs and Bladder Cancer.
- Urinating frequently
- Dark Urine, as well as a burning sensation while urinating.
- Pain in the kidneys, i.e. in the lower back or below the ribs
- Discomfort in the bladder region
While all these symptoms are also common when one is suffering from Bladder Cancer, a few more chronic symptoms to identify the disease are:
- Blood in the urine
- Postmenopausal Uterine Bleeding
- Urinary Incontinence
- Lower back pain that makes day to day activities difficult
- Decreased Appetite
Causes of UTI
- Here are some possible causes of urinary tract infections:
- Bacteria from previous infections can lead to recurrent UTIs
- Personal hygiene and sexual intercourse can also be a factor in causing the problem
- Sexual intercourse can cause UTI in women by pushing the bacteria present in the vagina towards the urethra
Recurrent UTI symptoms in men and women include:
- Persistent urge to urinate
- Burning pain or pressure
- Cloudy or discoloured urine
- Bloody urine
Children with UTIs are more likely to have a fever without any of the above-mentioned symptoms.
Also Read: What Causes Bladder Pain?
Risk Factors of Bladder Cancer
Let us now tell you some bladder cancer risk factors that increase the chances of getting this cancer:
- Men: While UTI is more common in women, bladder cancer is highly common in men.
- Age: Mostly aged people(above 50 years) are diagnosed with bladder cancer.
- Smoking or tobacco consumption: Smokers are three times more likely to get diagnosed with bladder cancer as cigarette is found to be a major cause of cancer.
- Arsenic in water: People whose water supply might have traces of arsenic are also at risk of bladder cancer.
- Chemical Exposure: There are certain chemicals whose long-term exposure can increase the risk of bladder cancer.
- Previous bladder cancer: If you have had bladder cancer in the past, it may recur.
The symptoms of UTI can be very similar to Bladder Cancer which is why it is imperative to seek medical help when the symptoms are severe or persist for a long time. Bladder cancer is a treatable condition if diagnosed early, the treatment plan will include chemotherapy paired with surgical removal of all parts of the bladder.
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