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Let’s talk about urological cancer

Typical symptoms, treatments and risk factors for the five leading urological cancers

It's Urological Cancer Awareness Month throughout September and we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the stats and symptoms in case they’re helpful to anyone reading. We are not doctors, and all of this information is in the public domain, but if we hope that in sharing it, it could help someone to get a diagnosis a little earlier.

Urological cancer statistics

The term 'urological cancer' refers to a number of different cancers including the following:

  • Bladder cancer: 10,300 new cases each year; 46% survival rate
  • Kidney cancer: 13,322 new cases each year; 52% survival rate
  • Penile cancer: 699 new cases each year; 68% survival rate
  • Prostate cancer: 52,254 new cases each year; 78% survival rate
  • Testicular cancer: 2,354 new cases each year; 91% survival rate

Ref: Cancer Research UK

Urological cancer symptoms

As with all things, you know your body best, so if you are ever concerned that something doesn't feel right, it's always best to check with your doctor. Most of the time it's unlikely to be anything serious. That said, these are the most common symptoms of each of the mentioned urological cancers.

Bladder cancer symptoms:

  • More frequent need to urinate
  • Sudden urge to urinate
  • Burning sensation when you pass urine

Kidney cancer symptoms:

  • Blood in your urine
  • Persistent pain in your lower back or side
  • A lump or swelling in your side
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Loss of appetite/weight loss
  • Persistent high blood pressure
  • High temperature
  • Night sweats
  • Swollen glands
  • Bone pain
  • Coughing up blood

Penile cancer symptoms:

  • A sore that does not heal
  • A rash
  • Bleeding under the foreskin
  • Discharge
  • Skin thickening
  • Changes to skin colour

Prostate cancer symptoms:

  • Need to urinate suddenly or more frequently
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Feeling that your bladder has not emptied

Testicular cancer symptoms:

  • Increase in the firmness of a testicle
  • Difference in appearance between testicles
  • Dull ache or sharp pain in your testicles
  • Feeling of heaviness
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Urological cancer prevention

Cancer isn't always preventable, however there are some circumstances that can make people more predisposed to particular cancers than others. This information is derived from data presented by Cancer Research UK.

Bladder cancer prevention:

It is estimated that around 49% of bladder cancer cases in the UK are preventable, with smoking presenting as the lead cause in 45% of cases, 6% caused by workplace exposures and 2% caused by ionising radiation.

Kidney cancer prevention:

Age and genetics are big factors in kidney cancer, however it's estimated that around 34% of cases in the UK are preventable. Cancer Research UK estimates that around 13% of kidney cancer cases are caused by soothing and 24%symptoms are linked to obesity.

Penile cancer prevention:

Penile cancer is far less common than the other urological cancers mentioned. It's estimated that 63% of penile cancer cases in the UK are preventable, with lifestyle factors playing a big part, however the main cause is connected with the HPV virus.

Ref: Cancer Research UK

Prostate cancer prevention:

Around one in six men in the UK will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and it hasn't been linked to any clear and preventable risk factors. The key here is early diagnosis and, in particular, talking to your doctor as soon as you think something might not be quite right.

Testicular cancer prevention:

One in 215 men are estimated to be diagnosed in with testicular cancer in the UK at some point in their lifetime. Like prostate cancer, it is not linked to any preventable causes so once again, the emphasis is on early diagnosis and awareness wherever possible.

Typical treatments for urological cancer

Urological cancers are typically treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy depending on the stage and type of cancer that you have. Here we highlight the primary treatment and the percentage of cancer patients who receive it.

Bladder cancer treatment:

For bladder cancer, 49% of patients have surgery to remove the tumour as part of their primary treatment. Around 34% have radiotherapy and 21% have chemotherapy.

Kidney cancer treatment:

Again, kidney cancer tends to be treated with a combination of surgery, chemo and radiotherapy. 56% of patients have surgery, 8% radiotherapy and 13% chemotherapy as part of their primary treatment.

Penile cancer treatment:

Penile cancer treatment depends on where it is, where it's spread to and your age and general health. Most cases are treated with non-surgical intervention including a chemotherapy cream and laser therapy. Sometimes further treatment is required.

Ref: NHS

Prostate cancer treatment:

Prostate cancer is, much like other urological cancers, treated with a combination of surgery, chemo and radiotherapy. 15% of cancer patients have surgery to remove the tumour, 30% have radiotherapy and 3% have chemotherapy as part of their primary cancer treatment.

Testicular cancer treatment:

The primary treatment for testicular cancer is surgery to remove the affected testicle. There is also sometimes a single dose of chemo for stage one to prevent cancer cells returning and a short course of radiotherapy is also sometimes recommended. For stage two and three cancers chemotherapy is often used and further surgery if necessary.

Ref: NHS

Spa treatments and your cancer journey

All cancer treatments have their side effects that doctors will be able to offer advice on.

From our perspective, spas are certainly not going to fix all problems, but with properly trained spa therapists and the right products, they can help to ease some side effects of cancer treatments and to provide support on your cancer journey.

For example, the right type of massage has been shown to help ease pain, improve mood and help with sleeplessness. Meanwhile, products from brands like Jennifer Young help to ease some of the skincare side effects of cancer treatment.

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If you would like to find out more about spas where therapists are trained to provide the best support on your cancer journey, you can follow the link to our Safe Hands for Cancer experiences, or read more articles on this blog.

Read more about cancer support in UK spas

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