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Clear on Cancer – Blood in Pee

Clear on Cancer – Blood in Pee
10 August 2018

A retired mental health worker has backed a Public Health England campaign that aims to fight cancer by urging people to check their pee before flushing.

Sixty two-year-old Gervase McGrath, from Congleton, said that early diagnosis of renal cancer on Christmas Eve 2016 saved his kidney and may well have saved his life too.

His GP at Lawton House Surgery referred him to Macclesfield Hospital for an ultrasound scan after a test at the practice revealed blood in his urine. The scan revealed a cancerous growth that was removed during surgery, after which he was given a clean bill of health.

Mr McGrath said: “Because the cancer was spotted early, the surgeon was able to remove the growth and save the kidney. The consultant said that wouldn’t have been possible if diagnosis had been delayed. He said I’d have lost my kidney and possibly my life too if diagnosis hadn’t been so prompt.  Apart from the blood in my urine, there were no other symptoms.”

Now, he is supporting a Public Health England “Blood in Pee” campaign that calls on people to tell their doctor if they notice blood in their pee, even if is just once.

His words were echoed by Dr Mike Clark, clinical lead for urology at NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and GP with High Street Surgery, Macclesfield.

“Blood in your pee can be a sign of bladder cancer or kidney cancer, which is why it's so important to see your doctor straight away, even if it’s ‘just the once’.

“Chances are it's nothing serious but you're not wasting anyone's time by getting it checked out. Some symptoms may be caused by an infection or bladder or kidney stones, all of which may need treatment.”

He also pointed out the high prevalence of bladder and kidney cancer: “Around 19,100 people are diagnosed with bladder or kidney cancer in England each year and both types are in the top 10 most commonly diagnosed cancers. We know that discovering it early makes it easier to treat, which is essential to improving patient outcomes.”

Mr McGrath described Lawton House Surgery as a “fantastic practice” and said that his early diagnosis and excellent treatment was an example of the NHS “at its best.”

He retired just over a month ago from his post as chief executive of Visyon, a Congleton-based charity partly funded by the CCG to provide mental health services to children and young people. He had worked there for three years, before which he spent more than 20 years with Addaction, a charity supporting people with drug and alcohol dependency issues.

He now runs a second-hand bookshop in Leek that he and his partner, Sandi, opened last year. He enjoys reading and has recently tried his hand at fly fishing.

Patient outcome statistics highlight the importance of early diagnosis, with 84 per cent of those diagnosed with kidney cancer and 77 per cent of those diagnosed with bladder cancer at the earliest stage living for at least five years. This is in contrast to late-stage diagnosis, where this rate is reduced to 10 per cent and nine per cent respectively.

Blood in your pee is a key symptom for both types of cancer but there are other symptoms too.

Symptoms of bladder cancer include:

  • Cystitis, a urinary tract infection that is difficult to treat or comes back quickly after treatment
  • pain while peeing.

Kidney cancer symptoms include:

  • a pain that doesn’t go away, either in the tummy or in the side below the ribs
  • weight loss.

Dr Clark urged: “Get into the habit of checking before you flush and, if you do notice blood in your pee, even if it’s ‘just the once’, tell your doctor.”

For more information, visit www.nhs.uk and search for “bladder and kidney cancer.”