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19 July 2018

Be Clear on Cancer campaign launched

A new survey reveals that only 16% of adults aged 50 and over (those most at risk of these cancers) in South West say they check the colour of their pee every time they go to the toilet. If people don't look before they flush, they may not notice blood in their pee.

Our parnters Public Health England (PHE) have launched a new ‘Be Clear on Cancer' campaign in South West 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 16% of adults aged 50 and over (those most at risk of these cancers) in South West say they check the colour of their pee every time they go to the toilet. If people don't look before they flush, they may not notice blood in their pee.

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 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%)[ii] of all bladder cancers and around a fifth (18%)[iii] 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 44% of those surveyed in the South West said they would not seek medical advice if they saw blood in their pee just once,1 however, 43% of those surveyed said they would wait and see if it happened again, potentially putting off a vital diagnosis.1

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; 21% in the South West say they would be worried about wasting the GP's time and 23% would only book an appointment sooner if they had other symptoms.1

Latest figures show that every year in England around 19,100[iv] people are diagnosed with bladder or kidney cancer and sadly, around 8,000 people die from these diseases.[v] Early diagnosis is critical; 84% of those diagnosed with kidney cancer and 77% of those diagnosed with bladder cancer at the earliest stage (stage 1) will live for at least five years.4,5,* At a late stage (stage 4), this drops to 10% and 9% respectively.4,5,[1]

Debbie Stark, Deputy Director for Healthcare Public Health at PHE South West, said:
"The South West statistics are worrying and show that not only are over 50's not checking their pee after going to the toilet, 44 percent would not seek advice if they saw blood in their pee just once.

"We know that if bladder and kidney cancers are picked up early, people are more likely to have better outcomes and ultimately that saves lives.

"I would urge anyone who sees  blood in their pee, don't wait for it to happen again before getting it looked at, visit your GP straight away."

Pat Nicholls, 78, from Burnham-on-Sea, a retired teacher and hotelier noticed what she thought was blood in her pee while Christmas shopping in December 2015.

Pat gave a urine sample to her GP surgery. She was advised to pick up a prescription for antibiotics as they thought it was probably an infection, and the sample would be sent to the laboratory.

The doctor called back four days later and said it wasn't an infection and recommended her for fast track to the Urology Department at Musgrove Park.

Following a cystoscopy, it was discovered that Pat had an early stage superficial bladder tumour.

The tumour was removed in January 2016, and tests and investigations since have been negative.
Pat said:"The treatment and care I have had has been excellent. I was lucky that I discovered the blood in my pee so quickly, I use coloured toilet block at home, so it might have been there before, I just didn't notice it and I had no other symptoms to indicate something might be wrong.

"A friend of mine was diagnosed with bladder cancer a few years before I was, and she talked quite openly about it, so I did not fear it and the treatment as much as I might have for another cancer.

"I now talk about my experience and urge everyone to look before they flush, and if they do notice anything, to see their GP as soon as possible

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'.

Information sources:

[1] Survival is relative period survival for 20092013 diagnoses

[i] All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2484 adults aged 50+ in England. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7th - 13th June 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all England adults (aged 50+).

[ii] Price SJ, Shephard EA, Stapley SA, et al. (2014) Non-visible versus visible haematuria and bladder cancer risk: a study of electronic records in primary care. The British Journal of General Practice. 64, pp584589.

[iii] Shephard, E.A., Neal, R.D., Rose, P., Walter, F.M and Hamilton, W.T. (2013) Clinical features of kidney cancer in primary care: a case-control study using primary care records. The British Journal of General Practice. 63 (609), pp250-255.

[iv] Incidence data supplied by Public Health England based on the National Cancer Registration & Analysis Service dataset, 2018

[v] Deaths data supplied by Public Health England based on the ONS mortality data, 20122016

Last updated: 19 July 2018 | Last reviewed: 19 July 2018

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