Looking before you flush could save your life

Published: Sunday 28th February 2016 by The News Editor

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The toilet isn’t really somewhere most of us like to hang around…

You’re usually in a hurry to wash your hands and get back to whatever it was you were busy doing before your bladder got full. However, health experts are warning that we should all take a moment to “look before you flush” – as it could save lives.

The ‘Be Clear On Cancer’ campaign is aiming to raise awareness – and decrease the instances of – kidney and bladder cancers.

With just over 10,000 cases diagnosed each year, kidney cancer is the eighth most common cancer in UK adults, while bladder cancer is the seventh.

The outlook is generally good – providing the cancer is detected and treated early enough, so checking your urine for blood (a key symptom), and visiting your GP immediately if you find any, could make a big difference.

Doctor Jenny Harries, a regional director for Public Health England (who launched the campaign), says: “It’s vital that we all do our bit to raise awareness that blood in pee could be an early sign of bladder or kidney cancer, and encourage anyone with this symptom to go to their GP.

“We know that people don’t always immediately visit their doctor if they spot blood in pee, which can be for a number of reasons – some might ignore the symptoms, especially if it only happens once, or may pass the symptom off as cystitis.

“If you do notice blood in your pee, don’t wait for it to happen again before getting it checked out, visit your GP straight away.”


Keeping quiet won’t help or make blood in your urine go away – a quick call to your doctor is all it takes to have your mind set at rest. And, if there is a problem, the earlier it’s caught, the better.

Dad’s Army actor Ian Lavender, who suffered from bladder cancer, is supporting the campaign.

“It’s a simple message, ‘look before you flush’, and make sure you go and see your GP if you notice blood in your pee,” he says. “Spread the word, someone you know might have this symptom and reminding them to get it checked could save their life – it saved mine; I’m 70 and still happy to be working.”


:: After going to the bathroom, but before flushing, look for any signs of blood in your urine.

:: While you’re at it, check your stools for any changes, especially if they become black, dark red, pale or contain mucus, as this can be a sign of poor bowel health, or potentially bowel cancer.

:: If there are any changes or signs of blood – don’t panic.

:: Flush.

:: Wash your hands.

:: Call your GP to make an appointment to discuss your findings – even if this is only the first time you’ve spotted blood.


:: Blood in urine is a symptom in more than half of bladder cancer cases, and almost a fifth of kidney cancer cases.

:: More than nine in 10 bladder/kidney cancer cases are diagnosed in men and women aged over 50.

:: However, blood in your pee doesn’t automatically mean cancer. It could just be a sign of a bladder infection or kidney stones – but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, if you do go and see your doctor but the issues persist, let your GP know.

:: Recurring and persistent cystitis (urinary tract infection) and pain while peeing can also indicate bladder cancer, while unexplained weight loss and constant pain below the ribs on the side can be further indications of kidney cancer.

Copyright Press Association 2016

Published: Sunday 28th February 2016 by The News Editor

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