Patient data was used to measure the effects of Be Clear on Cancer Blood in Pee campaigns

What happened?

Between 2012 and 2016, The Be Clear on Cancer (BCoC) Programme introduced a series of local, regional and national campaigns to increase awareness of blood in pee as a symptom of bladder and kidney cancer and encourage patients to visit their GP sooner. These campaigns are known as the Blood in Pee (BiP) campaigns. The national campaigns used adverts, leaflets, and social media to promote the message, ‘if you notice blood in your pee, even if it’s just the once, tell your doctor straight away.’

By analysing patient data, the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS) found that there was an increased awareness of blood in pee as a cancer symptom, more individuals were visiting their GP, and there were more referrals for suspected kidney, bladder and urlogical cancers. For example, in the third campaign (post campaign stage), mentions of blood in urine as a sign of bladder or kidney cancer increased (from 25% at the pre campaign stage to 37% at the post campaign stage).  This is similar to increases seen in the first campaign and the second campaign (44% from 27% and 40% from 31%, respectively).

The number of newly diagnosed bladder and kidney cancers also increased following the national campaigns. By improving the public’s awareness of cancer symptoms this work could help to promote the importance of diagnosing cancers earlier and getting treatment faster.

Why was this work needed?

In 2018, over 9,000 people were diagnosed with kidney cancer and over 8,000 were diagnosed with bladder cancer in England. Blood in pee can be a symptom for both of these cancers and these increasing numbers of diagnoses might be because people are not presenting these symptoms early enough to their doctor, which may lead to a delay in referrals. The BiP campaigns try to encourage those with symptoms to visit their GP which could lead to earlier diagnosis. Without patient data, we would not know how effective these campaigns are in increasing cancer awareness, GP attendance and cancer referrals.

What were the benefits?

Patient data has helped NCRAS to understand the impact awareness campaigns can have on the public’s knowledge of cancer and diagnosing the disease earlier. Across the campaigns, there was an increase in the number of people visiting their GP with blood in their pee, an increase in patients being referred by their GP to see a cancer specialist, and more cases being diagnosed at an early stage.  In particular, patient data showed an increase in the number of new bladder cancer cases diagnosed and those referred urgently with suspected cancer. For the third campaign 244 extra bladder cancer cases were diagnosed compared to the number expected.

What type of data was involved?

The project used data which was collated, maintained and quality assured by NCRAS, which is part of Public Health England (PHE).

What was the legal basis for accessing this data?

NCRAS has legal permission to collect patient-level data and use it for research to protect the health of the population. This permission is granted under Section 251 of the NHS Act 2006.

Who funded and collaborated on this work?

The BiP campaigns were carried out by PHE’s Be Clear on Cancer Programme (BCoC). The programme is delivered in partnership with NHS England, Department of Health and Cancer Research UK with input from clinical and academic partners. The analysis of patient data was carried out by NCRAS.

Where can I go for more information?

An evaluation of the Be Clear on Cancer: Blood in Pee campaigns

Be Clear on Cancer: local, regional and first, second and third national Blood in Pee campaigns: Final Evaluation

Be Clear on Cancer Evaluation page – NCIN website