Local GPs encourage patients to ‘look before they flush’

Public Health England (PHE) has launched a new ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign in the West Midlands, 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 or only a little bit.

A new survey reveals that only 19 per cent of adults aged 50 and over (those most at risk of these cancers) in the West Midlands region 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 per cent) of all bladder cancers and around a fifth (18 per cent) 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 49 per cent of those surveyed in the West Midlands said they would not seek medical advice if they saw blood in their pee just once. However, 46 per cent of those surveyed said they would wait and see if it happened again, potentially putting off a vital diagnosis.

Dr Murray Campbell, a local GP and clinical lead for cancer for the Staffordshire clinical commissioning groups, said: “As a local GP, I can’t stress enough the importance of an early diagnosis. There is nothing to be embarrassed about and please don’t feel you are wasting our time. The chances are it is nothing, but if it is something it is better to seek treatment straight away. Bladder and kidney cancers are more treatable if they are found early. Your visit to your GP is confidential and we can offer advice and hopefully reassurance.”

Dr Lola Abudu, Director of Health and Wellbeing for Public Health England (PHE) in the West Midlands, said: “Blood in pee is a major symptom of both bladder and kidney cancers, so we’re asking people to ‘look before you flush’ the toilet. Even if you notice blood in your pee just the once, you should tell your doctor straight away. The chances are it’s nothing serious, but bladder and kidney cancers are more treatable if they are found early. Other potential symptoms to look out for are pains that don’t go away, either in the tummy or the side below the ribs; weight loss, pain when peeing and cystitis – a urinary tract infection that can recur after treatment. If you have any of these symptoms and they persist, you should definitely visit your doctor, and don’t worry that you’re wasting their time, because going to the GP could save your life.”

The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ ‘Blood in Pee’ campaign runs until 23 September and includes advertising in washrooms, on TV, radio, in washrooms and online.

For further information about the signs and symptoms of bladder and kidney cancer, search ‘Be Clear on Cancer’.