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There are two urological cancers that affect women: kidney cancer and bladder cancer.
Renal (Kidney) cancer is an increasingly common problem. It affects both men and women but is more common in men. Often early kidney cancer has no symptoms and is discovered by chance on scans done for other reasons. Kidney cancer can also cause blood loss in the urine or a lump in the abdomen.
Bladder cancer is one of the most common cancer causes for blood in the urine. Tests including examination of the bladder under local-anaesthetic with a telescope may be needed to make a diagnosis. It may be treated by day / overnight surgery via the urethra (water pipe) with no external cuts to take samples. This is often curative but more complex surgery or chemo/radiotherapy might be needed in more severe cases.
Haematuria is defined as the presence of blood in the urine. It is either visible (frank) or non-visible (microscopic). It has many causes including: infection in the bladder, or kidneys or prostate (often associated with pain or discomfort on passing urine), stones in the urinary tract, bursting of a small blood vessel or, a tumour (cancer) in the bladder, kidneys or ureters.
Sometimes non-visible haematuria can be caused by some disorders of the kidney usually investigated by a nephrologist.
Most people who pee blood would probably think that this was a little worrying. Sometimes blood in the urine can be the first sign of a really important problem such as a bladder or kidney cancer. These problems are more common in current or ex-smokers but even people with a healthy lifestyle may have them. For many people however it is not associated with any major illness and may go away on its own. Because you as a patient can’t tell if blood in your pee is important or not you are encouraged to report it to your doctor urgently. If you see your GP with this problem they are likely to do a urine test to check for infection and antibiotic treatment may be needed if this is the cause.
A urine test and blood tests are usually required to rule out infection and ensure that the kidneys are functioning is normally. The kidneys are examined with ultrasound and CT scans if required and a flexible camera is used to examine the bladder under a local anaesthetic (called a flexible cystoscopy). These tests will usually demonstrate the cause of the bleeding and your treatment options will be discussed with you after these tests. Occasionally, further tests are required.
Often the ‘all clear’ is given and no long term follow up is needed, but if a serious condition is diagnosed then keyhole surgery for kidney and bladder problems can be offered and laser vaporisation of kidney stones can be performed if required.
NHS – Blood in urine
BAUS – Haematuria
Macmillan Cancer Support
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