Public Health England (PHE) is launching a national ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign to encourage everyone to ‘look before they flush’ and visit their GP if they notice blood in their urine
A new survey reveals that only 16% of adults aged 50 and over in England (those most at risk of these cancers) say they check the colour of their urine every time they go to the toilet, with women being less likely to check every time (12% versus 20% of men).
A new short film featuring 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 urine can vary – from very diluted to bright red or even dark brown, like the colour of weak black tea.
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.”
Blood in urine is a symptom in almost 64% of all bladder cancers and around 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 47% of those surveyed said they would not seek medical advice if they saw blood in their uring just once, with 45% saying 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, 20% say they would be worried about wasting the GP’s time and nearly 23% would only book an appointment sooner if they had other symptoms.
Latest figures show that every year in England around 19,100 people are diagnosed with bladder and or kidney cancer and around 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 stage 1 will live for at least 5 years. At stage 4, this drops to 10% and 9% respectively.
Professor Julia Verne, from PHE said: “It is vital that people know that blood in their pee could be a sign of cancer. Our research shows only a small number of people check the colour of their pee every time they go to the toilet.
“People need to get into the habit of looking before they flush to spot any signs of blood in their pee. And if there is blood, they shouldn’t hesitate about going to their GP. This will help diagnose more people at the early stages, when cancer is more treatable – improving their chances of living longer.
The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ ‘Blood in Pee’ campaign runs until 23 September and includes advertising on TV, radio and in public toilets and online. For further information about the signs and symptoms of bladder and kidney cancer, search ‘Be Clear on Cancer’.