A new study suggests that urinary tract infection symptoms that don’t improve with time or treatment could point to bladder cancer.
According to researchers this finding applies to both men and women.
The study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison was revealed during a press conference at the American Urological Association 2015 Annual Meeting.
Unfortunately awareness is especially important when it comes to women because bladder cancer is more commonly associated with men. Many primary care physicians are less aware that bladder cancer is even a possibility in women.
The most common symptom of bladder cancer is hematuria, blood in the urine; UTI-like symptoms generally don’t always raise suspicion.
This study is the first of its kind. The study analyzed data from 9,326 men and 2,869 women who were diagnosed with blood in the urine or a UTI in the year before they were diagnosed with bladder cancer.
Researchers discovered that bladder cancer diagnoses takes longer and health outcomes tend to be worse in men and women who have UTIs than in men with blood in the urine.
On average the time from initial symptoms to a bladder cancer diagnosis was longer in women than in men. This data suggests that UTIs were the reason or this.
The delay in diagnosis in women is understandable because urologic care is given by a primary care doctor, obstetrician, or gynecologist. Women usually don’t see a urologist until much later, while men are more likely to see a urologist much earlier.
The study also found that both men and women who had a UTI were more likely to have more-advanced cancer at diagnosis than men who had blood in their urine.
Researchers urge that if there are persistent symptoms not to simply chalk it up to urinary tract infection and to actually see an urologist.
These findings should be considered preliminary because they have not yet undergone the “peer review” process, where outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.