According to Cancer Research UK, more than half (55%) of bladder cancer cases in the UK are diagnosed in people aged 75 and over.
Andrew Winterbottom, founder and director of charity Fight Bladder Cancer Bladder, spoke to HuffPost UK to raise awareness of the disease and its symptoms.
Here Andrew answers some common questions:
What are the main symptoms of bladder cancer?
The main symptom of bladder cancer is blood in your wee. This is from very obvious symptoms (a lot of blood making your wee look very red) to much smaller, microscopic amounts, that can only be detected by testing.
Other symptoms can include pain when weeing, needing to wee frequently, urinary infections that keep coming back or prove to be very hard to treat with antibiotics, tiredness and abdominal pain.
Is bladder cancer easy to diagnose?
Bladder cancer is easy to diagnose but most people are not aware of the key symptoms, so don’t go and see their GP as soon as they should. In addition, some of the main symptoms of bladder cancer are also linked with other medical problems, resulting in GPs delaying the referral of patients on to urology specialists.
This is a particular problem for women, who experience a greater delayed diagnosis. There is also a common misconception that Bladder Cancer only affects older men, but many younger people, of both sexes and all ages, do also get it.
Do you think people just aren’t going to the doctor in time?
Many men do fail to see their doctors at the first sign of blood in their wee. They often dismiss it as a “one off” or put it down to something like lifting something heavy or working too hard.
Older men, who are at the biggest risk of having bladder cancer, often believe that it is part and parcel of getting older and can suffer for months without seeing their doctor.
What is the survival rate?
The difference between being diagnosed early or late with bladder cancer can be significant. Caught early, while the cancer is still on the lining of the bladder, you can expect to have up to an 80% survival rate for the first five years. This can decrease to less than 15% if the cancer is caught late and has started to spread through the wall of the bladder into other organs.
What needs to be done to raise awareness?
Firstly, we need to make sure that people start to talk about bladder cancer. We also need to raise awareness within the medical profession and dispel the notion that it is an “old man’s disease” so they are quicker to refer women with blood in their wee or those patients who have recurrent UTIs.
For more information visit Fight Bladder Cancer.