Bladder Infection? It May Increase Prostate Cancer Risk

According to recent statistics from the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk of prostate cancer diagnosis in men is approximately one in eight.

Prostate cancer ranks as the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among American men.

While cancer of the prostate gland is a serious health problem, many men recover successfully.

Over 3.1 million men in the U.S. who have previously received a prostate cancer diagnosis are still alive today.

Numerous factors contribute to the development of prostate cancer.

Is bladder infection one of them? We’re going to discuss this subject below.

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Basics of bladder infections

A bladder infection, also referred to as cystitis, is a urinary tract infection (UTI).

UTIs can occur anywhere in the urinary tract, including the bladder, kidneys, and urethra. It’s easy to assume UTIs and overactive bladder are two terms for the same thing. But they’re not.

According to medical experts, overactive bladder occurs when the muscles of the bladder contract excessively, while urinary tract infections (UTIs) are typically caused by bacterial infections.

Women are more likely to develop bladder infections than men because they have a shorter urethra. Just because infections of the bladder aren’t as common in men, it doesn’t mean men should overlook or ignore them.

A common cause of bladder infections is bacterial infection within the bladder, as confirmed by medical research.

The body usually removes the bacteria through urination. In some cases, bacteria can bind to the bladder walls and start multiplying rapidly. As a result, the body’s ability to destroy bacteria weakens, and infection ensues.

Most bladder infections stem from Escherichia coli (E. coli), a type of bacteria naturally present in the large intestine. 

There are several types of cystitis, including acute and interstitial cystitis, as recognized by medical professionals.

Acute cystitis is short-term and occurs suddenly.

Interstitial cystitis is a chronic and long-term condition that affects multiple layers of bladder tissue. 

Types of cystitis

Bacterial cystitis

According to medical experts, bacterial cystitis can develop when bacteria enter the urethra or when there is an imbalance in normally-growing bacteria.

Untreated cystitis can potentially lead to kidney damage and severe health issues, including kidney infections.

Drug-induced cystitis

Drug-induced cystitis occurs when certain medications lead to bladder inflammation. Drugs pass through the body and eventually leave through the urinary system.

However, some drugs can irritate the bladder while they’re on the way to exiting your body.

Some medications that cause cystitis include chemotherapy drugs, cyclophosphamide, and ifosfamide.

Radiation cystitis

Radiation cystitis can result from radiation treatment in the pelvic area.

Foreign-body cystitis (due to a catheter)

The continued use of a catheter can damage urinary tract tissues and increase the risk of infections, leading to foreign-body cystitis.

Chemical cystitis

Some hygiene products can cause irritations of the bladder, for example.

Cystitis can be associated with various health conditions, including HIV, spinal injuries, enlarged prostate, kidney stones, and diabetes, according to medical research.

Common signs and symptoms associated with bladder infections in men

  • Frequent urination, urinary urgency, and dysuria (a burning or tingling sensation during or after urination) are commonly reported symptoms.
  • Some men may notice cloudy urine with a strong odor, experience a low-grade fever, or observe hematuria (bloody urine).
  • Difficulty urinating, particularly in individuals with prostate issues, can be another indication.
  • Untreated bladder stones and pain in the lower abdomen are potential signs.
  • It’s important to note that not all cases of bladder infection present noticeable symptoms, and some men may have asymptomatic bacteriuria (presence of bacteria in urine).
  • Bladder infections can be categorized as either complicated or uncomplicated, with the latter occurring in patients with normal urinary tract function and unobstructed urine flow.

Keep in mind not all cases of this problem have noticeable symptoms.

Some men can have asymptomatic bacteriuria (presence of bacteria in urine).

These problems can be complicated and uncomplicated.

Uncomplicated urinary tract infection happens in patients with the normal function of the urinary tract and unobstructed urine flow.

Risk Factors for Male Bladder Infections

Various problems can increase the risk of bladder infections in men.

Some of them are:

  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate)
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney stones
  • Recent use of a urinary catheter
  • Urethral stricture (abnormal narrowing of the urethra)
  • Undergoing a procedure in which an instrument is inserted into the urethra
  • A urine culture is typically required for diagnosis.
  • The treatment for bladder infections depends on the underlying cause.
  • In most cases, patients are prescribed antibiotics, which may have temporary effects on bowel movements.
  • Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be stressful for individuals.

The doctor needs a urine culture to detect the problem.

The exact treatment of bladder infection depends on its cause.

In most cases, patients need to take antibiotics. Some antibiotics may cause issues with bowel movements for a while.

The trickiest thing about this problem is that frequent UTIs can cause a great deal of stress daily.

Bladder infections and prostate cancer

The urethra passes through the middle of the prostate gland, and pressure on the urethra can lead to difficulties in urination.

Problems affecting the prostate gland can sometimes result in urination issues and urinary tract infections, including bladder infections. While an enlarged prostate is a common cause, prostate cancer can also contribute.

Furthermore, treatments for prostate cancer can occasionally impact the bladder and urethra, potentially causing discomfort and bladder infections.

Prostate cancer surgery may affect nerves or the bladder outlet muscle (sphincter), potentially leading to increased urinary urgency and frequency, as well as possible urethral narrowing

In some cases, advanced prostate cancer may spread to the bladder, which can further complicate urinary and bladder function

The symptoms of prostate cancer spreading to the bladder can mimic those of a urinary tract infection and other urinary issues.

Signs that prostate cancer has extended to the bladder may include painful urination, urgency, frequent urination, nocturia, hematuria, and urinary incontinence.

That’s why prostate cancer is a disease that requires constant monitoring. Regular checkups are crucial for monitoring prostate cancer progression. Healthcare professionals can detect changes and assess whether it’s spreading to nearby tissues.

Interestingly, there is an observed increased risk of prostate cancer following a history of bladder cancer.

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Does a bladder infection increase prostate cancer risk?

Prostate cancer and UTIs such as bladder infection may be interconnected.

But is their relationship a two-way street? The evidence says yes. 


PLoS One journal published a study that analyzed whether lower urinary tract infection (LUTI) such as cystitis links to increased prostate cancer risk.

A study published in the PLoS One journal analyzed data from 14,273 men with lower urinary tract infections (LUTI). The study found that men with a history of cystitis and urethritis had a significantly higher risk of developing prostate cancer compared to those who had never experienced LUTI.

Furthermore, men who had more than five medical visits related to LUTIs in a year were at a considerably higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

In simpler terms, recurring bladder infections appear to be associated with an elevated risk of prostate cancer.

The exact reasons behind the link between LUTIs like bladder infection and prostate cancer risk are not yet fully understood.

One theory suggests that cystitis may lead to bacterial prostatitis (prostate infection), which could contribute to the development of prostate cancer.

Inflammation in the tissue, particularly after repeated bladder infections, may generate active oxygen and nitrogen radicals that could increase the risk of cancer.

These radicals are believed to influence the body’s anti-cancer defenses and promote the formation of cancer cells.


Age plays a significant role in prostate enlargement, which is a common age-related condition. It can constrict the urethra, where it passes through the prostate gland. In turn, urination becomes less efficient.

Inadequate emptying of the bladder creates a fertile ground for bacteria. They start multiplying rapidly, making you more prone to infections.

Frequent urinary tract infections, which are inflammations of this sensitive area, can contribute to the problems mentioned earlier, potentially increasing the risk of certain health issues.


It’s crucial to emphasize that you should promptly seek medical attention if you experience any lower urinary tract issues.

You should see your doctor when any symptom occurs. That way, you can manage the problem adequately and reduce the risk of potential complications.

As mentioned above, the most common treatment approach for bladder infection is the use of antibiotics.

You need to stay on them until the entire course of treatment is complete. Yes, even if symptoms go away, you still need to take antibiotics. Why? Surviving bacteria can form strains that are resistant to antibiotics and, thereby, more challenging to treat.

Complicated UTI, such as an inadequately managed bladder infection, can significantly affect your quality of life.

Other risk factors of prostate cancer

As seen throughout this post, bladder infection may contribute to prostate cancer.

Many other factors increase the risk of this serious disease.

Some of the most significant prostate cancer risk factors include:

Older age

Prostate cancer risk tends to increase with age, with a higher incidence in men aged 50 and older, according to research


Studies suggest that men with excess weight may have an elevated risk of developing prostate cancer. Furthermore, obesity can potentially impact the aggressiveness of the disease and its response to treatment.

Additionally, cancer is more aggressive in obese men and also more likely to return after the initial treatment.

Family history

Genetics also plays a role in the development of prostate cancer.

Interestingly, a family history of genes associated with breast cancer (BRCA1 and BRCA2) or a strong family history of breast cancer can increase the risk of prostate cancer too.


Research indicates that prostate cancer may have varying outcomes in different racial groups, with some evidence suggesting that it may be more aggressive in black men.


Prostate cancer exhibits varying prevalence rates worldwide, with higher incidence rates observed in northern Europe and North America. Additionally, urbanized environments in Asian countries, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, are also reporting increasing cases of this cancer.


Prostate cancer is a serious health problem whose prevalence is constantly on the rise.

Various factors contribute to the development of prostate cancer, and studies show bladder infection is one of them. This is especially the case with recurrent UTIs such as cystitis.

The exact mechanism of action through which cystitis leads to prostate cancer needs further research.

A possible theory is that complicated bladder infection leads to inflammation that may promote carcinogenesis.

That said, treatment of prostate cancer can cause bladder infection symptoms.

The message here is that you need to be proactive about your health and never ignore lower urinary tract symptoms, especially with repeated UTIs.

Your doctor will order a urine test to detect the presence of infection and treat it promptly. 

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  1. Evaluating the predictive value of urine tests for urinary tract infections. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 
  2. Fan CY, Huang WY, Lin KT, et al. (2017). Lower urinary tract infection and subsequent risk of prostate cancer: A nationwide population-based cohort study. PLoS One. 3;12(1):e0168254.
  3. Foxman B. (2014) Urinary tract infection syndromes: occurrence, recurrence, bacteriology, risk factors, and disease burden. Infect Dis Clin North Am. Available from:
  4. Perdana NR, Mochtar CA, Umbas R, Hamid AR. (2016) The Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer and Its Prevention: A Literature Review. Acta Med Indones. Available from:
  5. Hooton TM. (2012) Clinical practice. Uncomplicated urinary tract infection. N Engl J Med. Available from:

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