Know it, to control it

Urological signs and symptoms in adult cancers

Adult males and females exhibit various symptoms of urological cancers. Some are specific to the male gender while others are common in both sexes such as bladder and kidney cancers.

Most common symptoms associated with urological cancers in both sexes include:

  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Pain while urinating (dysuria)
  • Changes in urinary pattern
    • Frequent need to urinate
    • Inability to urinate
    • Weak or hesitant urinary stream
    • Incontinence (difficulty holding urine or leaking)
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Lower back pain
  • Frequent urinary tract infections

In males, additional warning symptoms for cancer include:

  • Male infertility
  • Male impotence or erectile dysfunction
  • Mass in testicle
  • Penile swellings/rash/ulcer
  • Diagnosis of disease in the urinary tract or male reproductive organs

Common cancers in adult males and females include

Bladder cancer

In most cases, fresh blood in urine (hematuria) is the first sign of bladder cancer. Sometimes, the color of urine reported is orange, pink, or, less often, darker red. Sometimes, the color of the urine is normal but small amounts of blood are found on urinalysis. Blood may be present one day and absent the next, with the urine remaining clear for weeks or months. If a person has bladder cancer, blood eventually reappears. Usually, the early stages of bladder cancer cause bleeding but little or no pain or other symptoms. Changes in urinary pattern can also be an early warning sign for investigations.

However, hematuria and changes in urinary pattern is also observed in urinary infections, benign(non-cancerous) tumors, renal or bladder stones and other kidney diseases.

Renal cancer

Hematuria, one sided low back pain that is not caused by injury, lump on the side or lower back, accompanied by loss of appetite and weight, fatigue,fever  and anemia(low hemoglobin) may be the symptoms of renal cancer and require investigations for other benign causes including benign renal tumors, urinary tract infections, and renal stones.

Male specific cancers include prostate, testicular, and  cancer of the penis

Prostate cancer

Symptoms mainly include difficulty during urination. Patients complain of difficulty in starting to void with urgency, dysuria and having a weak steam or a stream with interruptions.  Hematuria  is often associated with  pelvic discomfort. Erectile dysfunction may also be present; ejaculation is painful and may be accompanied by blood in the semen.

Not all men with prostate cancer will exhibit early symptoms and hence screening with prostate specific antigen (PSA) for early prostate cancer is one of the most controversial issues in all of medicine.

Testicular cancer

Testicular cancer only affects one testicle and is the most common neoplasm among young men aged 15-40 years. Patients will complain of a lump or an enlarged testicle accompanied by a heavy feeling in the scrotum. Pain may also be present in the testicle itself or the entire groin or the lower abdomen. Back pain is also present.

Penile cancer

Any visible change in the skin on the penis, such as color change, change in thickness, a sore or lump, a rash or growth that bleeds easily are early signs of penile cancer. The most common sites are the glans penis followed by the prepuce, coronal sulcus and shaft. Patients will complain of a discharge that is “foul-smelling”. Swelling may also be observed near the tip of the penis or/ and groin region as it an aggressive cancer that has early locoregional spread.