Despite being the seventh most common cancer in the UK, bladder cancer is still hugely under-recognised in the UK. Action on Bladder Cancer (ABC), the only UK charity dedicated to bladder cancer, remains greatly concerned that despite over 10,000 people being diagnosed every year, many people still do not understand how to recognise the warning signs.
Even just one episode of blood in the urine may indicate that bladder cancer may be present. Almost half (45%) of the UK public are not aware of this and so many people do not seek initial advice from their GP early enough when their disease is still very treatable. Frontline doctors also need to be more aware that a patient with blood in their urine needs to be referred to a urologist promptly for assessment. Researchers from Cambridge University recently found that women were approximately twice as likely as men to have visited their doctor three or more times before being referred to a specialist, resulting in about 700 women per year having their diagnosis delayed.
ABC welcomes new advances in the early detection of bladder cancer. Researchers at the Universities of Liverpool and the West of England are working on a new device that can detect gaseous chemicals in the urine so enabling earlier detection.
Dr Alison Birtle, Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer & Consultant Oncologist, Preston; ABC Trustee and Chair of the NCRI Clinical Study Group on Bladder Cancer says “There is a huge lack of understanding about bladder cancer which can lead to people being mis-diagnosed and/or diagnosed at a later stage in the disease. People need to understand the warning signs, see their GP and be referred to a urologist so that if bladder cancer is present, they have the best possible chance from their treatment. The new device is still in the testing phase however if the results are replicated in larger trials, this technology looks promising to assist with early diagnosis when it becomes available.”
As an independent charity, ABC is working to improve public awareness, medical knowledge and the priority of bladder cancer on the UK health agenda to ensure earlier recognition and diagnosis, so allowing more effective management to improve the outcomes for people with bladder cancer. Mr Colin Bunce, Chair of ABC and Consultant Urologist in Barnet says: “ABC calls for much stronger recognition of bladder cancer amongst the general public and the medical profession in order to prevent avoidable deaths.”
2. GfK NOP Survey on bladder cancer for Action on Bladder Cancer, April 2012