Healthcare provider and patient discussing whether recurrent UTIs can be a sign of cancer

Can Recurrent UTIs Be a Sign of Cancer?

Medically reviewed on August 11, 2023 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Recurring UTIs are quite common, particularly among people identified as female at birth. Among every woman that gets one, 1 in 4 will have a recurring infection. [1]

But can recurrent UTIs be a sign of cancer? The truth is, a recurrent urinary tract infection is not typically a symptom of cancer, so if your healthcare provider has diagnosed you with UTIs, you don’t need to worry.

However, if you repeatedly have UTI symptoms that have not been professionally evaluated, it’s a good idea to reach out to a healthcare provider. Symptoms of bladder cancer can resemble persistent UTIs and bladder infections, and a visit to your healthcare provider can ensure you’re properly diagnosed.

If you’re concerned about your UTI symptoms or bladder infections, knowing how UTIs vs. bladder cancer compare is an important first step in staying informed about what’s occurring in your body. Below, we’ll cover how both conditions manifest and the typical outcomes for individuals affected.

What Causes UTIs?

UTIs, or urinary tract infections, occur when bacteria enter the urethra and cause an infection. The most common signs of UTIs include [2]:

  • A constant need to urinate
  • A burning sensation while urinating
  • Urinating in small amounts
  • Urine that carries an odor
  • Urine that appears murky

UTIs are typically treated with a course of antibiotics. However, a recurrent urinary tract infection may require some lifestyle adjustments to combat. If antibiotics are routinely used, infection-causing bacteria may become resistant and make the medicine less effective. [3]

Who Is Most Likely to Have Recurring UTIs?

To be diagnosed with a recurrent UTI, an individual has to have a UTI at least three to four times in a single year. [4] This is most likely to occur in two groups of people:

  • People assigned female at birth – People with female reproductive anatomy are more likely to contract UTIs because their urethras rest closer to the vagina and anus, where infection-causing bacteria tend to reside. [4] It’s also easier for bacteria from the environment to enter the urethra, as female’s urinary tracts are shorter than males.
  • Older adults – It’s common to put off going to the bathroom as an older adult or to have difficulty completely emptying the bladder. Older adults may also be immunocompromised. [5] If urine stagnates, they may be more prone to infection.

People with male reproductive anatomy can get UTIs, but they’re less common. A recurrent UTI could indicate the presence of kidney stones or an enlarged prostate. If you fall into this group, or if you want to know whether you have a bladder infection vs. UTI, it’s important to reach out to your healthcare provider for assessment. [4]

Bladder Cancer: Who’s At Risk and Signs to Look For

Bladder cancer remains the fourth most prevalent form of cancer in people assigned male at birth. [6] People assigned female at birth are less likely to develop it. [6]

The majority of people who develop bladder cancer are older than 55 years old.6 If you are an older adult, have male reproductive anatomy, and/or are experiencing symptoms, it’s recommended to have your symptoms reviewed by a healthcare provider. [6]

As mentioned, many UTI symptoms may overlap with those of bladder cancer, including [7]:

  • Needing to urinate frequently
  • A burning or painful sensation when urinating
  • The sensation of incomplete urination

The most apparent and common symptom of bladder cancer is seeing a rusty or red hue in urine. [7] This indicates your urine contains blood (known as hematuria). Additionally, it’s important to answer the question: “Can a UTI cause bleeding?”

If you experience these symptoms and also observe pain in the lower back or abdomen, it’s important to reach out to your healthcare provider for evaluation. Pain alongside early bladder cancer symptoms can indicate the condition has advanced to a later stage. [7]

Bladder Cancer Treatability

The good news about bladder cancer is that its early symptoms are often quite noticeable. As such, most cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed early, making them easier to treat. [8] If diagnosed early, the cancer is less likely to escalate and affect other urinary organs like the ureters and kidneys. [6]

Moreover, survival statistics for people with bladder cancer remain strong:

  • 96% of people with cancer in their bladder lining (the carcinoma in situ) survive 5 years following diagnosis [9]
  • 70% of people with cancer in the bladder itself survive their next 5 years with the condition [9]

Fortunately, the American Cancer Society reports that bladder cancer rates have declined recently. [6] Keeping this trend on track starts with taking a proactive approach to confronting UTI symptoms head-on.

Clear Up Health Concerns With Everlywell

If getting UTIs has become the norm for you, or if you’re concerned your symptoms may indicate a more serious condition, it’s worth checking in with your healthcare provider through UTI treatment online. Even a quick telehealth consultation can help ease the mind, let you know how to relieve UTI pain, and determine whether your ailment requires further treatment.

With Everlywell, you can look into your symptoms with discretion, convenience, and credible, physician-reviewed results. At-home tests like the Everlywell Female STD Test and Male STD Test can provide you with peace of mind while you wait to be diagnosed by a healthcare provider.

Once you’ve got your results, the Everlywell customer care team can even connect you with a healthcare provider and prescription services if you need them.

Find out how to take health into your own hands by visiting Everlywell today.

How Long Can a UTI Go Untreated?

How to Relieve UTI Pain

Can a UTI Cause Bleeding?


  1. Definition & Facts of Bladder Infection in Adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. URL. Published October 8, 2019.
  2. Mayo Clinic. Urinary tract infection (UTI) - symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. URL. Published 2022.
  3. Publishing HH. When urinary tract infections keep coming back. Harvard Health. URL. Published September 17, 2019.
  4. Why Do I Get UTIs so Often? Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. URL. Published December 6, 2018.
  5. Rodriguez-Mañas L. Urinary tract infections in the elderly: a review of disease characteristics and current treatment options. Drugs in Context. 2020;9(1):1-8. doi: URL.
  6. Key Statistics for Bladder Cancer. URL.
  7. Bladder Cancer Symptoms - NCI. URL. Published February 16, 2023.
  8. Mayo Clinic. Bladder cancer - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. URL. Published 2017.
  9. Survival Rates for Bladder Cancer. URL.
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