IT’s a symptom which many may ignore – but a Leeds doctor has warned doing that could pose a serious risk to health.
A new campaign is being launched which urges people to see their doctor if they see blood in their urine.
The Blood in Pee campaign, which runs until the end of March, is aiming to ensure anyone who experiences this – even only once – sees their GP.
Leeds consultant urologist Neil Harris says that many people ignore the warning, even though it could be the body’s way of giving an early alarm call that could indicate kidney or bladder cancer.
“You’re not wasting anyone’s time by getting checked out,” he said.
“If it’s not serious then that’s great, but if it is bladder or kidney cancer early detection makes it easier to treat – so seeing your doctor immediately could really save your life.”
The campaign, part of the national Be Clear on Cancer initiative, aims to explain that finding cancer earlier means it is much easier to treat.
Around 17,450 people in England are diagnosed with bladder or kidney cancer each year.
They can occur in both women and men of any age, but are more common in men and in people aged over 50.
If these cancers are diagnosed at the earliest stage, survival rates after a year are up to 96 per cent – but if they aren’t picked up until later, survival drops to as low as 27 per cent.
Mr Harris, who practices at Spire Leeds Hospital in Roundhay, added: “All figures indicate that people seeing their GP after spotting blood in their pee is on the rise, but we can’t afford to be complacent.
“In England, around 7,500 people die from bladder or kidney cancer each year – simply making people aware of the symptoms and of the need to act on spotting them could help reduce this number.
“Don’t wait until you have spotted blood three or four times ‘just to be sure’. The one time is enough – if you spot it get it checked.”
Smokers have a much higher risk of developing these cancers, and other risk factors include being overweight or obese, certain jobs due to exposure to specific chemicals, other medical conditions such as kidney failure and having a family history of cancer.
As well as spotting blood when going to the toilet, other symptoms of bladder cancer include a difficult to treat or persistent urinary tract infection and pain when urinating. Symptoms of kidney cancer can include a pain in the side, below the ribs that doesn’t go away and losing weight.
Medics say these symptoms could be a sign of an infection or a condition like kidney stones – but it’s best to see your GP to get checked out.
For more information, log on to www.nhs.uk/bloodinpee.