Blood in My Urine: Should I Be Concerned About Cancer?

If you have noticed blood in your urine, it’s likely you felt frightened, worried and confused. It’s okay. Blood in the urine is a common problem that could be caused by a variety of things, not just cancer. The first step after you see unexplained blood in your urine is to schedule an appointment with a doctor. Your doctor can help you determine the cause of this issue. Learn more about common causes of finding blood in urine and what more serious issues for which you should be looking out.

Common Causes for Blood in Your Urine

Blood in the urine is also called hematuria. This happens when red blood cells enter your urine, anywhere in the urinary tract from the kidneys to the urethra. Sometimes you can see blood in your urine (macroscopic hematuria), sometimes it is microscopic. It can vary from very light pink to dark red and can include blood clots. There may only be spots of blood that occur in the toilet water after you have finished urinating.

Urinary Tract Infection

Also known as acute cystitis, this condition means bacteria have entered your urine and have multiplied in your bladder causing symptoms.

Other symptoms include:

  • Consistent feeling that you need to urinate

  • Feelings of pain and burning when urinating

  • Urgent need to urinate

  • Strong smelling urine

Kidney Infection

Kidney Infections, or pyelonephritis, are a lot like bladder infections and occur when bacteria enter the kidneys through the blood.

Other symptoms include:

  • Similar symptoms to bladder infections

  • Fever

  • Nausea, vomiting

  • Pain in your sides

Kidney and Bladder Stones

In some people, crystals form in the bladder or kidneys due to minerals collecting in the urine.

Other symptoms include:

  • Intense pain in lower abdomen, usually one sided

Enlarged Prostate

The enlarging of a prostate happens naturally as males begin to age.

Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulty urinating

  • Consistent or urgent need to urinate

Kidney Disease

This condition can be caused by diabetes, infections, blood vessel diseases, or immune problems. Children most often develop kidney disease after having strep throat, and that is when blood in their urine is detected. 

Other symptoms include:

  • Changes in the frequency, color, or consistency of urination

  • Swelling of the ankles, legs, feet, face or hands

  • A rash and severe itching

  • Pain in your legs, back or sides

  • Metallic taste in your mouth

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Anemia

  • Shortness of breath

  • Feeling dizzy

  • Feeling tired

  • Trouble concentrating

Sickle Cell Anemia

This condition is hereditary and affects the hemoglobin, a protein responsible for transporting oxygen, in the blood. It is most often diagnosed in children after four months of age.

Other symptoms include:

  • Fatigue

  • Trouble breathing

  • Dizziness

  • Headaches

  • Cold hands and feet

  • Pale skin around the nose, mouth and other organs

  • Jaundice or the yellowing of the skin and eyes

  • Pain throughout the body

Kidney Injury

The kidneys are located under your diaphragm, towards the back of the body on either side of your spine. It is possible to injure your kidneys with a severe blow such as an accident or during contact sports.

Other symptoms include:

  • Pain and swelling in the abdomen

  • Pain in the sides and back

  • Feeling tired and having trouble staying awake

  • Very little urine or the inability to urinate

  • Fever

  • Higher heart rate

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Pale and cold skin

  • Sweating

  • Irritability


There are a few drugs that could cause blood in your urine. Cyclophosphamide, or Cytoxan, the anti-cancer drug, as well as penicillin, can cause blood in the urine. Blood thinners like aspirin, warfarin, and heparin can also cause blood to appear if you have a condition that causes bleeding into the bladder.

Major Exercise

Athletes who have exercised vigorously may see blood in their urine. This blood could be caused by trauma to the bladder during exercise, the breakdown of red blood cells during exercise, or dehydration.

Surgeries or Procedures

It’s common to see blood in the urine of people who have just experienced a urinary tract surgery. These procedures include catheterization, circumcision, surgery or a kidney biopsy.

There are some instances where blood looks like it’s in the urine, but it’s coming from a different source such as menstruation, ejaculation, or a bowel movement. Blood in an ejaculation or the stool should be discussed with a doctor.

Cancers That Cause Blood in Your Urine

Blood in your urine can also be a sign of a few different cancers. If you are concerned about any blood you discover while urinating, always talk with your doctor.

Bladder Cancer

Most types of bladder cancers start in the inner layers of the bladder, called the urothelium. They can eventually grow through the other layers of the bladder to the outside of the bladder. The American Cancer Society estimates that around 74,000 people will develop bladder cancer this year. This type of cancer is found mainly in older persons. The average age of diagnosis is 74. It’s also more frequent in males than in females and is more common in white people than in African Americans. 

Other risk factors include smoking, chemical exposure, chronic bladder infections, bladder birth defects, family history and others.

Other symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination

  • Pain when urinating

  • Pain in the back and pelvis

Kidney Cancer

The most common type of kidney cancer is called Renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Around 90 percent of all kidney cancers are RCC. This kind of cancer occurs when a tumor develops in the kidney. According to the American Cancer Society, about 61,560 people will be diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2015. It is very uncommon to discover kidney cancer in those under the age of 45.

The risk factors include smoking, obesity, workplace exposures, genetics, high blood pressure, kidney disease and more. Kidney cancer is most common in African Americans and Alaska Natives and is also more common in males.

Other symptoms include:

  • Lower back pain on one side

  • A lump on your side or lower back

  • Fatigue

  • No appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Fever

  • Anemia

Prostate Cancer

The prostate is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum in males. The prostate is responsible for creating fluid for sperm. As men age, the prostate naturally becomes larger due to hormones. Almost all prostate cancers are adenocarcinoma, which means they start in the gland cells. Prostate cancer grows very slowly compared to other cancers and often doesn’t have any symptoms.

It is expected that 220,800 men will develop prostate cancer in 2015. It is the most common type of cancer in men. Most males who have prostate cancer do not die from it. Most men who develop prostate cancer are older than 50. African American men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than white men. Prostate cancer is more common in North America, Northwestern Europe, Australia and the Caribbean Islands. Other risk factors include family history, diet, and obesity.

Other symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination, especially at night

  • Trouble starting or stopping urine

  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine

  • Pain or burning sensation while urinating

  • Problems achieving an erection

  • Pain while ejaculating

  • Blood in semen

  • Frequent pain in the lower back, hips or thighs

Discovering blood in your urine can cause feelings of anxiety and panic. If you or a loved one has found blood in his or her urine, schedule an appointment with a doctor today to determine the cause and to begin treating the problem. If you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, trust the doctors at the John Stoddard Cancer Center to provide you with the best care possible.