A NEW campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of bladder and kidney cancers launches in the North East today.

Around 550 people die from these cancers annually in the North-East and Cumbria region.

The Be Clear on Cancer 'Blood in Pee' campaign pilot features TV and radio adverts to raise awareness of the key symptoms - particularly blood in urine.

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A recent online survey revealed only 24 per cent of people in the North-East said they would visit their GP after seeing blood in their urine just once .

Public Health Minister Anna Soubry said: "Many people don't know the key signs of bladder and kidney cancers, which is why this campaign is so important.

"Earlier diagnosis improves the chances of successful treatment and is key to tackling cancer survival in this country. If caught at the earliest stage, one year kidney and bladder cancer survival is as high as 88-95 per cent, compared to just 22-35per cent at a late stage.

"Our goal is to save an additional 5,000 lives every year from cancer by 2014 and we have invested over 450 million to help diagnose and treat cancer earlier."

Around 1,250 people in the North-East and Cumbria are diagnosed with bladder or kidney cancer each year. The online survey showed that only 13 per cent of people in England are aware that blood in your urine could be a sign of bladder or kidney cancer. The new NHS Be Clear on Cancer campaign encourages people to see their doctor straight away if they notice blood in their urine - even if it is just the once.

Dr Debbie Ashcroft, a North Yorkshire GP who features in the Be Clear on Cancer campaign, said: "Blood in your pee could be an early sign of kidney or bladder cancer. If you notice it, even if it happens just the once, don't make excuses, make an appointment with your doctor.

"You're not wasting your doctor's time - they will want to hear from you and it's much better to be sure, if only to put your mind at rest."

The pilot will run for nine weeks with TV and radio adverts as well as awareness raising events, targeting people over the age of 50 across the North East.

For more information visit nhs.uk/bloodinpee