Anyone who notices blood in their urine must act fast and see their GP – that’s the message from a new bladder and kidney cancer campaign.
Residents of the Fylde coast have an increased chance of beating bladder and kidney cancer if they act quickly.
The national ‘Be Clear on Cancer – Blood in Pee’ campaign, which is running from Tuesday, February 16 to Thursday, March 31, is being backed by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Fylde and Wyre CCG.
Residents are being advised that if they see blood in their pee – even if it’s just the once – they should take action. The chances are it’s nothing serious, but if it is cancer, finding it early makes it more treatable.
Around 17,450 people in England are diagnosed with bladder or kidney cancer each year.
These cancers can affect people of all ages but are most common in people over 50 years of age. People who smoke, who work in the resin industry and who use hair dye as hairdressers are also at an increased risk.
Uro-Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialists from the urology department at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Helen Bright, Melanie Fluss and Denise Lonican, say if you spot blood in your urine you must act quickly.
The urology team has treated approximately 40 people in the last year for bladder cancer alone.
Helen said: “If you have blood in your urine, go and see your GP. You will be fast-tracked to our service.
“We will do a cystoscopy which involves using a local anaesthetic and a thin tube with a light to look inside the bladder.
“Most bladder cancers are diagnosed while they are still only in the bladder lining (early stage). These early bladder cancers can often be cured or controlled with minor surgery or treatment into the bladder. If bladder cancer is left untreated it has the potential to spread to other areas of the body such as the lymph nodes, bones, lungs or liver.”
Denise is the newest member of the team. She previously worked as a urology nurse practitioner and is planning to create a ‘one stop’ service. This will involve counselling the patient post-cystoscopy, doing the pre-operative assessments and arranging a date when they will come in for their treatment.
Patients are supported by Helen, Denise and Melanie throughout their hospital treatment.
Denise said: “There are lots of different treatments. Some are very low key and some are much more invasive.
“We also see people who don’t have blood in their urine. They have usually been referred to us from other routes.”
Melanie said: “People might think blood in their pee is something and nothing but please don’t ignore it.
“If investigations show a kidney cancer, this can be removed. Most people can live a normal life with one kidney.
“The chances are it’s not cancer but people need to get it checked out.”
Denise, Helen and Melanie cover all aspects of urology including bladder, prostate, kidney, testicular and penile matters.
Helen said: “There is always a potential for cancer to come back which is why we keep monitoring our patients.
“We continue to follow up patients for a long time so that if it does come back we can treat it early.”
Melanie explained: “At first we look in the bladder every three to four months and, after a patient has had a longer time without a recurrence, they get annual follow-ups.”
Helen said the team’s work was tough but enjoyable: “It’s a hard job mentally because we are dealing with cancer patients and their distress and anxiety but it’s also very rewarding to be able to support and guide them.
“It is a privilege to get people through their diagnosis and to help them live beyond cancer.”
Other bladder cancer symptoms include cystitis (a urinary tract infection) that is difficult to treat or comes back quickly after treatment and pain when urinating. Additional kidney cancer symptoms include pain in the side, below the ribs, that doesn’t go away and weight loss.
Dr Tony Naughton, Fylde and Wyre CCG’s clinical chief officer, said: “It’s a really simple message, but such an important one – if you notice blood in your pee please see your GP straight away and they will be able to set you on the right path.
“It may well not be serious but if it is the cancer, the earlier it is diagnosed the better.”
Dr Amanda Doyle, a Blackpool GP and Chief Clinical Officer at NHS Blackpool CCG, said: “Cancer is a challenge for Blackpool and is one of our health priorities.
“The earlier cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcomes. Blackpool CCG is currently working on the Fylde coast cancer strategy where prevention, raising awareness and early detection and diagnosis feature heavily.
“Be Clear on Cancer goes a long way to raise awareness nationally and so it is important that people in Blackpool particularly take notice of its message.”
For further information on kidney and bladder cancer go to nhs.uk/bloodinpee