Take time to check your pee – it could save your life
September is National Urology Awareness Month and a Bristol-based expert is encouraging people to check their pee to potentially save their lives.
Ade Adeniyi, consultant urologist and medical director at Emersons Green and Devizes NHS Treatment Centres, said: “For women, blood in the urine – haematuria – is most commonly seen as a sign of cystitis, an inflammation of the bladder usually caused by a bladder infection.
“Mild cases will often get better by themselves or with the aid of over the counter medication. However, some people may experience frequent and lasting episodes and they need to see their GP, as regular or long-term treatment may be necessary.
“Recurrent cystitis may develop into a more serious kidney infection, which can lead to permanent scarring of the kidney. Blood poisoning – septicaemia – can also follow untreated infections, as the kidneys filter waste from the blood and return the filtered blood to the rest of the body. Having a kidney infection can cause the bacteria to spread through your bloodstream. It’s important to seek medical advice if your symptoms don’t improve.”
Blood in the urine can also be the sign of a more serious condition. Ade said: “Both for men and women, blood in the urine can be the symptom of bladder cancer, especially if you are over 50 with a history of past (or continued) smoking. Symptoms like breathlessness, excessive night sweats, bloating, loss of appetite or a change in bowel habits are a less frequent but more worrisome accompaniment to blood in the pee.
“It is important that you speak to your GP if you notice these symptoms. In early bladder cancer the affected cells are only in the bladder’s inner lining, and so there is relatively straightforward surgery to remove the cells, followed by introducing a chemical into the bladder.
“However, once the cancer has become invasive it can spread into or through the muscle layer of the bladder. The main treatments include surgery or radiotherapy, individually or together.”
The symptoms can also be similar for kidney cancer: if caught early, various keyhole techniques are available, to deliver highly effective and minimally invasive treatment.
Ade said: “Prostate cancer affects one in eight men and a particular concern for many in the black community is that, at one in four, we are twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, a higher risk than any other group of men in the UK. We are also more likely to develop the condition if our fathers or brothers were diagnosed with it.”
Urinary problems, such as a weak urine stream, trouble starting and stopping, and urinating frequently, especially at night, are all symptoms of potential prostate problems. These symptoms are also often associated with noncancerous enlargement of the prostate, called benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH.
Symptoms of more serious prostate issues can include blood in the urine and pain in the hips, pelvis, spine or upper legs. Ade said: “We can help ourselves by keeping fit and healthy: if you’re overweight or obese, you may have a higher risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer that’s aggressive.
“Whatever may be the cause, in men particularly, at the sighting of blood in your urine, it is wise to see your GP.”