Home Health Red flag symptom of silent killer wrongly dismissed as a UTI

Red flag symptom of silent killer wrongly dismissed as a UTI

A “red flag” warning sign of bladder cancer can often be wrongly dismissed as a urine infection, symptom of the menopause or gynaelogical issue, experts have said. Dr Alison Birtle, a consultant clinical oncologist who specialises in urological cancer, said studies show women with bladder cancer have visited a doctor complaining of symptoms on average five times before they are referred to a specialist. She told MailOnline: “But a single episode of blood in your urine should trigger that referral.”

Dr Birtle told the publication there is a perception younger women don’t get bladder cancer, but that she has treated many women who have been diagnosed in their 20s and 30s.

According to the expert, GP guidelines recommend not to refer women under the age of 45, but anyone can get the disease.

Bladder cancer is where a tumour develops in the bladder lining. In some cases, the tumour spreads into the bladder muscle, according to the NHS.

The most common symptom of bladder cancer is blood in your urine, which is usually painless. Other, less common symptoms include weeing more often, a sudden urge to urinate and a burning sensation when passing urine.

Age, genetics and exposure to factors such as smoking can increase a person’s risk of developing the disease, with 49 percent of bladder cancer cases in the UK preventable, according to Cancer Research UK.

Dr Lydia Makaroff, Chief Executive of charity Fight Bladder Cancer, told MailOnline more telephone appointments with GPs means “many women” are wrongly prescribed antibiotics to treat a urinary tract infection (UTI) without having a simple test which would flag possible signs of cancer.

She said when a patient has a suspected UTI they should be given a urine test to confirm the diagnosis, but claimed this isn’t happening, even when patients go back a second time.

The charity chief exec said: “It means women often are in a cycle of misdiagnosis and experience critical delays to treatment.”

Experts describe bladder cancer as a “Cinderella disease” as it gets passed over when it comes to research funding, support from celebrities and public awareness.

The NHS advises anyone who detects blood in their urine – even if it comes and goes – to see a GP. It says having blood in your urine doesn’t necessarily mean you have bladder cancer.

Other causes the NHS says are more common include UTIs such as cystitis, a kidney infection, kidney stones, non-gonococcal urethritis and, in men, an enlarged prostate gland.


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