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Blood in your pee: Lives in East Midlands at risk by not looking for an essential sign of bladder and kidney cancer

19th July 2018 | By Liz Mattock | Posted in

Public Health England (PHE) launches new ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign in the East Midlands to highlight blood in pee as a key symptom of bladder and kidney cancers. The campaign will encourage everyone to ‘look before they flush’ and visit their GP without delay if they notice blood in their pee, even if it’s just once.

A new survey reveals that only 14% of adults aged 50 and over (those most at risk of these cancers) in East Midlands say they check the colour of their pee every time they go to the toilet.1 If people don’t look before they flush, they may not notice blood in their pee.

A new short film is featuring the TV doctor, Dr Dawn Harper, is being released as part of the campaign. The film shows what to look out for as the colour of blood in your pee can vary – from very diluted, to bright red or even dark brown, like the colour of weak black tea. Blood in pee is a symptom in almost two thirds (64%) of all bladder cancers and around a fifth (18%) of kidney cancers.

Blood might not appear every time, so it is important that people seek medical help even if they notice it just once. Worryingly, around 50% of those surveyed in East Midlands said they would not seek medical advice if they saw blood in their pee only once.  However, 45% of those surveyed said they would wait and see if it happened again, potentially putting off a vital diagnosis.

When asked why they would not go to the GP straight away if they noticed blood in their pee, some concerning delays for seeking help were uncovered; 19% in East Midlands say they would be worried about wasting the GP’s time and 31% would only book an appointment sooner if they had other symptoms.

Latest figures show that every year in England, approximately 19,100 people are diagnosed with bladder or kidney cancer. Sadly, nearly 8,000 people die from these diseases. Early diagnosis is critical; 84% of those diagnosed with kidney cancer and 77% of those diagnosed with bladder cancer at the most initial stage (stage 1) will live for at least five years. At a late stage (stage 4), this drops to 10% and 9% respectively.

Ben Anderson, Deputy Director for Healthcare Public Health at PHE East Midlands, said:Cancer survival rates are improving and we know finding cancer early saves lives, but there is still more to do to make people aware of the warning signs and to act on them.

“Many people in our region are unaware that blood in their pee could be a sign of bladder or kidney cancer and are hesitant to see their GP if they have them – for example only 14% of adults say that they check their pee and only 50% would seek medical advice if they saw blood in their pee only once.  

“Our message is simple – please don’t hesitate. If you have blood in your pee your doctor will want to see you, you won’t be wasting their time.”

Paul Protheroe lives in Leicester and in 2017 he was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
“I noticed I had started passing blood in my pee, so I went to see my doctor. The blood was thick clots and bright. At first the thoughts were that it could be kidney stones but further investigations took place and I was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
“I had one of my kidneys removed.  Within four days of my operation I was back at home and I am enjoying living life. What I want to say to anyone experiencing blood in their pee is don’t be afraid. Go and see your doctor. It could be a life-saver. This year I am off on three holidays – it’s what I like to call recuperation!”

 Mr Roger Kockelbergh, Consultant Urologist at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and trustee of Action Bladder Cancer UK, said: “Public Health England’s latest campaign is urging people to tell their doctor straight away if they notice blood in their pee, even if it is just once. The chances are it’s nothing serious, but blood in pee is a key symptom for both bladder and kidney cancers and these cancers are more treatable if they are found early.

 “The simple act of remembering to look before you flush and going to see the doctor if you see any blood, could save your life.”

 Dr Dawn Harper, TV Doctor and GP, said:I’m urging people to be vigilant to changes in their body and to check their pee. I hear all too often about people who have delayed seeking medical advice if they have worrying symptoms – like blood in pee – because they are afraid of what the doctor might find or what the treatment might be.

 “If you do notice blood in your pee, it’s probably nothing serious, but it’s always worth checking with a health professional – you won’t be wasting their time. It’s vital that people don’t put off getting help; if it is cancer, early diagnosis saves lives.”

 Professor Chris Harrison, National Clinical Director (Cancer), NHS England, said: “The earlier people are diagnosed, the better their chances, which is why it is vital people understand what to look out for and when to visit the GP. This campaign has the important aim of helping raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of bladder and kidney cancer and encouraging people to visit their GP after seeing blood in their pee.”

 The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ ‘Blood in Pee’ campaign runs until 23rd September and includes advertising on TV, radio and in washrooms and online. For further information about the signs and symptoms of bladder and kidney cancer, search ‘Be Clear on Cancer’.

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