Black and Asian cancer surivors have appealed for communities to be more aware and banish taboos surrounding cancer in a new campaign aimed at increasing awareness about kidney and bladder cancers.
The campaign – by Public Health England (PHE) – aims to highlight the importance of early diagnosis and cultural barriers to beating cancer among Black and South Asian communities.
Research has found that early diagnosis of of bladder and kidney cancers increases the chance of survival. The diseases kill nearly 8000 people every year in the UK.
PHE’s ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign sees survivors of these cancers lead the way, calling for people to be more pro-active.
Among those is bladder cancer survivor Jyoti Howe.
“I was fit with a healthy lifestyle, going to the gym and doing yoga when I noticed blood in my urine. I had no idea that blood in urine was a key symptom of bladder cancer but I realised that I needed to get medical help straightaway. When they told me I had bladder cancer I thought they must have got it wrong, it’s a mistake”, Mrs Howe says.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t a mistake but luckily it was caught early and I was successfully treated”, she adds.
Mrs Howe says that part of the reason for her good fortune is having the courage to banish the taboos that surround cancer in British Asian communities.
“I know cancer is still seen as a taboo in the Asian community but I’m living proof that bladder cancer is more treatable if caught early. It’s so important to act quickly when you notice blood in your urine, don’t ignore it thinking it will go away. See your doctor without delay”, she said.
It’s a message echoed by Jhumur Pati, Consultant Urological Surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust.
“There is often a strong fear of cancer, and a perception that cancer is an incurable disease that quickly leads to death but we know that bladder and kidney cancers are more treatable if they are found early”, Dr Pati says.
“Some prefer to see a spiritualist rather than going to see their doctor or self-treat symptoms with herbal remedies.
There is nothing wrong with seeing a spiritualist however, I would encourage those who notice blood in their urine, even if it’s just the once, to visit their doctor straight away.”
Aside from traces of blood in urine, other symptoms of bladder cancer include urinary tract infections and pain when passing urine.
Regular pain in the side, below the ribs and unexplained weight loss could be symptoms of kidney cancer.
According to medical experts, smokers have a much higher risk of these cancers.