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Press Release 19/8/2009

Posted Aug 27 2009 11:34pm
New Survey highlights shockingly low public awareness of kidney cancer, despite more deaths each year than road accidents

20 August 2009
New Survey highlights shockingly low public awareness of kidney cancer, despite more deaths each year than road accidents
Kidney cancer is the least heard of cancer when compared to a range of other types of the disease1, even though it is the eighth most common form3
Worryingly, over one in ten (11%) people who have experienced blood in their urine, an early symptom of kidney cancer, have not had it checked out by a medical professional.

The James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer and Kidney Cancer UK are launching a series of impactful films to help raise awareness of this cruel disease.

London, 20 August 2009. The James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer, with support from Kidney Cancer UK, today announces new research that shows a shockingly low awareness and understanding of kidney cancer amongst the Great British (GB) general public. The YouGov survey of 2,145 GB adults shows that kidney cancer is the least heard about form of the disease, with only 2% of GB adults having heard much about it when compared to a range of other cancers. Interestingly, over half of GB adults (54%) claim to have heard most about cervical cancer and 42% for leukaemia, even though there are fewer cases of these diseases than kidney cancer each year. According to the survey, only half (56%) of GB adults have ever even heard of the term „kidney cancer‟.

“The results from this survey are concerning. Every day in Britain, around 30 people find out they have kidney cancer,” said Professor Tim Eisen, Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Cambridge. “If caught early, surgeons can remove kidney cancer and cure the patient.

This survey shows that most British adults don‟t know what the symptoms of the disease are. Perhaps as a result, early symptoms such as blood in the urine are being missed. We have developed effective drugs to control advanced kidney cancer, but the only way to cure the disease is to destroy the cancer before it has spread.” According to the survey, only 5% of GB adults correctly identify smoking as the probable main cause of kidney cancer. This is particularly concerning given that cigarette smokers are thought to be twice as likely as non-smokers to develop kidney cancer.4 Over a quarter (27%) of GB adults mistakenly cite alcohol as the main probable cause.Kidney cancer accounts for around 3,700 deaths annually, which is more than die on the roads each year.

In the UK, the number of people diagnosed with kidney cancer has increased by 22% over the last ten years.The findings of this survey coincide with the launch of a series of new films that aim to help increase awareness of this devastating disease.

The main film entitled Kidney Cancer: Jane’s Journey, was commissioned by the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer, Kidney Cancer UK in co-sponsorship with Novartis Oncology, Red Health and Day For Night Films. The film highlights the personal journey of 50 year old Jane Thompson, a mother of three from Birmingham, who was diagnosed with advanced and incurable kidney cancer in 2007. James Whale, Founder of the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer, and himself a patient having been diagnosed with Kidney Cancer in the year 2000 describes Kidney Cancer: Jane’s Journey as “an impactful and incredibly moving account of the reality of living with advanced kidney cancer and the unquestionable importance of extended time for these people thanks to medical advances in this area. Through Jane‟s strength and determination, the film conveys a sense of hope as viewers watch her "squeeze the most out of every minute‟ that she has left with her family. In the film Jane successfully attempts to break down the "taboo‟ of death by showing the fantastic things that can be achieved in life, even when you‟re confronted with a terminal diagnosis.”

Jane Thompson herself says: “When I was diagnosed a couple of years ago I knew very little about kidney cancer, so I feel very passionately about anything that serves to increase awareness both with the public and the medical profession.”

Kidney Cancer: Jane’s Journey is available to view on You Tube. Jane also keeps a blog, which can be viewed HERE. The film is housed alongside other educational clips intended to showcase the plight of those living with kidney cancer and highlight the importance of hope for those who have been affected by the disease. BBC News presenter, Nicholas Owen, Founder of the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer, James Whale, Kidney Cancer Trustee, Pat Hanlon, Professor of Medical Oncology, Tim Eisen and carer and Kidney Cancer UK member, Jackie Lowe, all share their experiences in the educational clips that accompany the film.

The survey and launch of the films have been funded by an unrestricted grant from Novartis Oncology, a division of Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Ltd, to the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer.
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