September is Urology Awareness Month so in this blog, we’re highlighting:

  • our information on urological cancers
  • how to look after your urological health.

What is urological health?
Urological health is the health of your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. These are the parts of your body responsible for producing, storing and getting rid of pee (urine).

This is a diagram of the female body, showing the bladder and kidneys.

For people with male sexual organs (prostate, penis and testicles), urological health also includes these functions.

A cross-sectional illustration showing the positions of the male pelvic organs including the bladder, urethra, prostate gland, rectum and anus. The image is from the side with a man facing to the left.
On the left of the image there is a bone called the pubic bone. This is at the front of the body beneath the bladder and above the root of the penis. At the back of the body are the bones that make up the spine. A layer of muscles called the pelvic floor muscles are attached to the pubic bone at the front of the body and go to the last bone in the spine at the back of the body. This looks a bit like curved hammock shape.
The bladder is in the centre of the image. A tube called the urethra runs from the bottom of the bladder through the prostate gland directly beneath the bladder, through the pelvic floor muscle and then through the penis to the opening at the tip of the penis.
Behind the bladder and prostate gland is the rectum. The rectum narrows at its lower end as it passes through the pelvic floor muscle. The rectum then joins to the anus where the bowel opens to outside the body.

How common are urological health problems?
Very common – about half of us (1 in 2) will have a urological problem at some point in our lives.

Most urological problems are not cancer. But the symptoms of non-cancerous problems can be the same as the symptoms of cancer. If you have any of these, it’s important to get them checked by your GP.

What symptoms should I look out for?
Our signs and symptoms card shows the most common symptoms of urological cancers, which are cancers of the:

What if I’m too embarrassed to talk to my GP?
Many people find it hard to talk about the symptoms of urological problems. They involve parts of our bodies we consider private and don’t talk about much in everyday life. But health professionals, like your GP, are used to talking about these problems.

When urological problems are diagnosed early, they are often easier to treat. This includes urological cancers.

What can I do to prevent urological cancers?
We don't know exactly what causes many cancers. But there are ways you can lower your risk and improve your general health:

  • If you smoke, stop smoking.
    Smoking causes more than 1 in 4 cancers in the UK (over 25%). Smoking is known to increase the risk of both bladder and kidney cancers. If you want to give up smoking, it is never too late to stop. Ask your GP for advice, or contact the stop-smoking service in your area.
  • Keep to a healthy weight.
    Being overweight increases the risk of many cancers, including kidney cancer. A combination of a healthy diet and regular physical activity can help you manage your weight. For advice and support, talk to your GP or a dietitian.

Where can I get more information or support?
You can call the Macmillan Support Line 7 days a week, 8am – 8pm on 0808 808 00 00 to talk to our nurses or cancer support specialists. Or if you don’t feel like talking, you can write or use our web chat function.

For more information about all types of cancer, including urological cancers, visit our information and support pages on our website.

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The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

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