Figures released by Public Health England show 23 people died of bladder or kidney cancer in Lancaster between 2012 and 2016.
To prevent more deaths in Lancaster and across the country, PHE has launched a new ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign to 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 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%) 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, nearly half (around 46%) of those surveyed in the North West said they would not seek medical advice if they saw blood in their pee just once, and 2 out of 5 (43%) 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; 1 in 5 adults (19%) in the North West say they would be worried about wasting the GP’s time and a similar number (19%) would only book an appointment sooner if they had other symptoms.
Latest figures show that every year in the North West, around 1,777 people are diagnosed with bladder or kidney cancer and sadly, around 723 people die from these diseases.
Early diagnosis is critical; 4 out of 5 adults (84%) diagnosed with kidney cancer and three quarters (77%) of those diagnosed with bladder cancer at the earliest stage (stage 1) will live for at least five years. At a late stage (stage 4), this drops to around only 1 in 10 people (10% and 9% respectively).
Former children’s services worker Alison Crellin was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2013.
Alison, 55, from Cumbria, said: “I had bladder cancer, and blood in my urine was the first symptom I noticed. I put off going to my doctor, but I would tell anyone who noticed similar symptoms to get it checked out as soon as possible as early diagnosis makes it more treatable.
“I would especially urge women to look before they flush, and to be aware that blood in pee is not something to ignore as it could be a sign of bladder or kidney cancer.”
Dr Rebecca Wagstaff, Deputy Director Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England North West, said: “The earlier people are diagnosed, the better their chances, which is why it’s 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.”
Mr Andrew Baird, Consultant Urological Surgeon and Clinical Director for Urology at Aintree University Hospital NHS Trust, said: “It’s really important that people look out for any changes in their bodies and seek medical advice if you notice any worrying symptoms. Often, patients avoid seeking advice about things like blood in their 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 to worry about, but it’s always worth checking with a health professional – you won’t be wasting their time. Don’t put off getting help; if it is cancer, early diagnosis saves lives.”
The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ ‘Blood in Pee’ campaign runs until September 23 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’.