Blood in the Urine: When to worry?

In India bladder cancer is very common among smokers and men in their 60’s .The magnanimity of ignorance about the disease can be ascertain by a latest survey conducted not in India but in a well informed country like UK where almost two-thirds of adults are not aware of the signs of bladder cancer, with 10% having never even heard of the disease. One can assume the mammoth task we have to do to accomplish it in India. For starters bladder cancer is one of the top 10 most common cancers in the world.

Let’s take a look of a very common scenario which we face in our day to day urology practice.

Mr X, an active smoker noticed in the morning as he went to the toilet that his urine was bright red in colour and the pan had some blood clots also. Mr X ask his well informed friends from the morning walk and then on advice went to his local chemist. The chemist there and was told not worry as it can be due to UTI or stones. He was given a course of antibiotics and sent back. He remained symptom free for three months and then again experienced another episode of blood in the urine this time it was much severe. It was a shocking site as if he was bolted out of blue. Immediately, he told his wife as well as his son about the incident. Mr X was now concerned about it and so was his family. After diligent search on the internet they went to see an urologist.

Mr X was told by the urologist that painless hematuria (blood in urine) was the most common symptom of bladder cancer!! and not UTI or stones. Other symptoms include abdominal pain, lower back pain and frequency, urgency and dysuria (due to bladder irritation).

On further questioning Mr X admitted that he had experienced symptoms long before past three months. My urine had a slight darker consistency for past six months and I believed that it was due to spicy food or beetroot that I am fond of eating. He was fool to waste precious six months and taking over the counter treatment which is so prevalent in India.

Our country is replete with stories like Mr X YZZ…. And so on. We tend to ignore about our health and take free advice ... There are no shadows of doubt that the general public needs to be aware of this deadly disease that takes lives of 165,000 people globally each year.

Bladder cancer is defined by the growth of abnormal tissues in the lining of the urinary bladder. In some cases, it spreads to the surrounding muscles and organs, known as muscle invasive or metastatic bladder cancer respectively.

”If you see your urine has a change in color, became brown or dark, look at that as a symptom of something happening inside your body. It may not be anything but do not overlook it or underestimate it like Mr X.”

First and foremost one should recognize the most common symptoms of bladder cancer. It‘s the key, particularly for those at risk (people more than 65 years of age, in particular men and smokers), to be aware of the signs and symptoms of bladder cancer. Responding to symptoms quickly can lead to earlier diagnosis, treatment and increase chances of survival.

96% of patients will still be alive after five years if diagnosed in the early stage, before the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.