By Aalia Khan
The earlier bladder and kidney cancers are diagnosed, the higher the chance of survival, so being aware of the symptoms is crucial. Visible blood in urine is a key symptom in many bladder and kidney cancers and those who notice it, even if it’s just the once, should see their doctor without delay. Yet research has found that 43% of people would wait until they saw blood in their urine at least a second time before they contacted their GP.
Latest figures reveal that only 1 in 3 people survive bladder or kidney cancer beyond 12 months if diagnosed at a late stage, compared with more than 9 in 10 who survive at least a year if diagnosed at the earliest stage. In 2012 149 cases of males and 62 cases of females in Bradford were recorded to have bladder and kidney cancer. In the same year it is reported that 52 males and 22 females, in Bradford, died due to the illness.
It is believed that within South Asian communities there are cultural, language and religious reasons that can prevent people from seeing their doctor early. There is often a strong fear of cancer, a perception that cancer is an incurable disease that quickly leads to death. Some believe that by talking about it is tempting fate. But finding it earlier makes it more treatable.
Dr Jhumur Pati, Consultant Uro-Oncological Surgeon and Bladder Cancer Lead at Barts Health, said “It’s important for people from all communities to be aware of the symptoms of bladder and kidney cancer, especially where cultural, language and religious barriers exist. The message is simple, if you notice blood in your urine, even if it’s just the once, tell your doctor.”
Mr Mohammed Muquith, aged 68 from London knows just how lucky he is to survive bladder cancer. He frequently noticed blood in his urine, but didn’t act on it immediately. The consequences of delaying could have led to a very different outcome. “I was lucky that more damage had not been done as a result of not seeing my GP sooner.”
When he eventually went to his GP things moved very quickly. Just 2 weeks after his diagnosis he had a procedure to remove his bladder. Now fully recovered, Mr Muquith is thankful for how quickly he was treated, “I am grateful that I got treatment quickly before I suffered any pain.”
Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, said “This campaign encourages those who notice blood in their urine to go to their doctor straight away – bladder and kidney cancers are more treatable if they are found early.We need to continue to address the barriers that prevent people from presenting early to their doctor so that we can save more lives across all sections of society.”
Four Premier League clubs from across the country (Liverpool FC, West Ham United FC, Southampton FC and West Bromwich Albion FC) have put their rivalry to one side to support Public Health England’s campaign to increase awareness that blood in urine is a key symptom of bladder and kidney cancers. The Premier League and football clubs’ support will help reach men in particular, who are at greater risk of developing bladder and kidney cancers, and help keep the ‘blood in urine’ message at the front of people’s minds.
Professor Fenton is pleased with the support received from these clubs “We are delighted to receive such high profile support from these Premier League clubs. We are confident that together, we can increase awareness of the symptoms of these cancers and encourage those with symptoms to visit their doctor without delay.”
Jyoti Howe is another survivor of bladder cancer. She has been clear of cancer for 2 years and says “My family were very supportive but I realised that this is something I had to conquer personally and it has changed my outlook on life. Before I took life for granted, I now make the most of it.”
She emphasises that “It’s so important to act quickly when you notice blood in your urine, don’t ignore it thinking it will go away. See your doctor straight away. I’m living proof that bladder cancer is more treatable if caught early.”
On average, 17,000 people are diagnosed with either bladder or kidney cancer every year[i] – with around 7,500 people dying from these diseases annually.[ii] Last year, the campaign evaluation showed 127 more bladder cancers and 116[iii] more kidney cancers were diagnosed following an urgent GP referral for suspected urological cancer compared with the same three-month period in the previous year.
For further information about the signs and symptoms of bladder and kidney cancers, please visit nhs.uk/bloodinpee.