Over half of people do not recognise urine change as a sign of cancer

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Bladder cancer is not one of the most common forms of the disease in the UK. According to Cancer Research UK, only around 10,292 people are diagnosed with the disease every year.

Despite this, over five and a half thousand people lose their lives from the condition and only just under half of patients survive for more than 10 years whilst just under half of all cases are preventable.

Notwithstanding its rarity, people should remain aware of the symptoms it causes as it can develop at any time.

One of these signs can appear when someone goes to the toilet and should act as a warning sign that they need to get checked.

The sign in question is one over half of those surveyed said they did not know was a sign of the condition: a change in the colour of their urine or the presence of blood in their urine.

The data from this survey, taken by the European Association of Eurology (EAU) highlights how low the awareness is of bladder cancer, particularly in Europe although the same cannot be ruled out for UK patients as well.

Furthermore, the survey findings also revealed that 75 percent of participants do not always check their urine for a change in colour and 22 percent never checked their urine at all. As a result, patients could be missing out on their chance to dramatically cut their cancer risk or increase their life expectancy.

The findings come as Urology Week begins in Europe, one which finishes on the 30th September; this is a week where all things Urology are discussed and highlighted.

Speaking about the survey, Professor Arnulf Stenzl of the University Hospital in Tubingen said: “With bladder cancer, catching it early is crucial as this results in better survival rates. Those patients diagnosed at stage 1 have an 80 percent chance of five-year survival, compared to 40 percent at stage 3.

“The results of our survey provide us with a very worrying message that there is an urgent need for increased public education to make them aware of bladder cancer symptoms and to talk to a specialist like a urologist. This will help to achieve earlier diagnosis and lower the mortality rates.”

On the main symptom of bladder cancer, the NHS writes: “Blood in your urine is the most common symptom of bladder cancer. The medical name for blood in your urine is haematuria and it’s usually painless. You may notice streaks of blood in your urine or the blood may turn your urine brown. The blood isn’t always noticeable and it may come and go.”

Other symptoms include:
• A need to urinate on a more frequent basis
• Sudden urges to urinate
• A burning sensation when passing urine
• Pelvic pain
• Bone pain
• Unintentional weight loss
• Swelling of the legs.

While a change in colour of your urine or the presence of blood in your urine could be caused by bladder cancer, this is not always the case. For example, dietary changes can cause urine to change colour or even its smell.

Meanwhile, other conditions such as UTIs, kidney infections, kidney stones, non-gonococcal urethritis, and an enlarged prostate can also be the cause of blood in the urine too.

What causes bladder cancer?

In common with all forms of the disease, bladder cancer is caused by mutations to the cells, but is most often linked with exposure to noxious or cancer causing chemicals.

The biggest risk factor for bladder cancer is one shared by other cancers, and also one which can cause a myriad of other nefarious conditions which affect the entire body.

Smoking is the leading risk factor for bladder cancer as it exposes the body to harmful chemicals which make their way to the urine. The NHS says: “If you smoke for many years, these chemicals pass into your bloodstream and are filtered by the kidneys into your urine.

“The bladder is repeatedly exposed to these harmful chemicals, as it acts as a store for urine. This can cause changes to the cells of the bladder lining, which may lead to bladder cancer.

“It’s estimated that more than a third of all cases of bladder cancer are caused by smoking. People who smoke may be up to four times more likely to develop bladder cancer than non-smokers.”

As a result, smokers are advised to quit and move away from the act which can also increase someone’s risk of lung cancer and various cardiovascular problems.

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