STD Doubles Bladder Cancer Risk in Men
January 12, 2007
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) examined detailed questionnaires and medical records for 51,529 US men taken from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which began in 1986. A total of 286 cases of bladder cancer were identified in which complete information on gonorrhea history was available.
"Two studies have previously suggested a link between gonorrhea and bladder cancer in men," said Dominique Michaud, assistant professor of epidemiology at HSPH and lead author of the study. "But these were retrospective studies, meaning information on gonorrhea history was gathered after the cancer was diagnosed. These studies can sometimes give misleading results."
"We observed a two-fold increase in bladder cancer risk among men with a history of gonorrhea," Michaud said.
"Gonorrhea is an infection that often recurs, causing local inflammation and symptoms such as incomplete emptying of the bladder," Michaud said. "The inflammation itself or the associated symptoms could be contributing to the development of bladder cancer. The severity and frequency of these symptoms may dictate the extent of the increased risk."
According to the study, a history of gonorrhea also increases the risk of invasive bladder cancer, which leads to a poorer prognosis.
"This study strengthens the suspected link between infection with the gonorrhea bacterium and bladder cancer in men," said Professor John Toy, medical director of Cancer Research UK, which owns the journal that published the study. "The next step is to confirm whether the increased risk could be caused directly by the gonorrhea infection or its symptoms."
The study, "Gonorrhoea and Male Bladder Cancer in a Prospective Study," was published in the British Journal of Cancer (2007;96:169-171).
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.