And the most common symptom?
The most common symptom to look out for is blood in your urine, even just a small amount. It might come and go, and it’s often painless. It might happen only once, then go away, but you should still get it checked out by your GP as soon as possible. Less common symptoms include needing to pee more often, having a sudden need to go, and/or having pain or discomfort when you do.
The symptoms of bladder cancer are, in some cases, similar to those of a urinary tract infection (UTI), so your GP will usually start by carrying out a urine test. If it is a UTI, you’ll typically need a course of antibiotics which should sort it out. But if there’s no sign of infection, or your symptoms carry on for several weeks, your GP may arrange for you to have some other tests to check for bladder cancer. They might refer you to a urologist (a specialist in urinary, bladder and kidney conditions). Tests include a CT scan (a series of X-rays that create a 3D picture) which checks for cancer near the bladder or other parts of the body.
Why do we need to be more aware?
Bladder cancer isn’t rare. But, due to lack of awareness, many people don’t know what to look for, meaning the early signs can be missed. Bladder Cancer Awareness Month aims to call public attention to the disease so it can be diagnosed and treated earlier, improving the chances of a better outcome. The campaign is also targeting healthcare professionals and governments to encourage more investment in research and new treatments.