The plea supports the recently launched Help Us, Help You campaign, which aims to raise awareness of cancer related symptoms in the abdominal area, urological cancers, and lung cancer.
NHS data shows that more than 25,141 people in the South East are diagnosed with abdominal or urological cancers each year. However, research shows that three in five people – 60 per cent – are concerned about burdening the NHS, with half – 49 per cent – saying they would delay seeking medical advice compared to before the pandemic.
Vaughan Lewis, medical director for the NHS in the South East, said, “We know that thousands of people could be risking their lives by delaying medical attention for cancer symptoms.
“Thanks to the hard work of NHS staff, we are back on track with cancer referrals, diagnosis and treatment so, whether you or a loved one has a routine appointment, or a potential cancer symptom, please don’t delay and come forward to get yourself checked – we would rather see you sooner when any cancer would be easier to treat. We are open and ready to treat people with potential cancer symptoms.
“It’s incredibly important that people recognise the common symptoms that can signal a cancer diagnosis – and it’s vital that they take action by making an appointment with their GP, that could ultimately save their life.”
The Help Us, Help You campaign from NHS England, with support from Public Health England, will feature people with a range of symptoms, such as prolonged discomfort in the stomach area or a persistent cough, with the aim of persuading people experiencing these to contact their GP.
Symptoms that could be possible signs of abdominal or urological cancers include discomfort in the stomach area for three weeks or more, diarrhoea for three weeks or more and blood in your urine – even once.
A spokesperson from the NHS said, “Contact your GP if you have any of the above symptoms or you notice any other unusual changes, such as a lump in the tummy area, post-menopausal bleeding or unexplained weight loss, as these can also be signs of cancer.”
For lung cancer, symptoms can include a cough for three weeks or more that isn’t Covid, chest infections that keep coming back and coughing up blood.
The NHS spokesperson said, “Mark Jenkins, 55, was diagnosed with lung cancer during the pandemic. He didn’t seek help initially after he coughed up blood but after a fall at work, further tests revealed his cancer diagnosis.”
Mr Jenkins said, “Although I feel lucky, I know things could have turned out so differently. I would say to anyone ‘go and get yourself checked out if you cough up blood’. I wish I had. I might have saved all this from happening to me”.
Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said, “This important campaign is coming at a crucial time when tens of thousands of people have yet to be diagnosed with cancer. If you’ve noticed an unusual change in your health, don’t be tempted to put it down to getting older or to a pre-existing condition - contact your GP. If you have trouble getting through to the practice at first, do keep trying.
“When you speak to your GP - whether that’s face to face, on the phone or by email - if you’re worried that you might have cancer, mention that to them and attend any follow up tests your GP thinks are needed. If you do need to visit in person but you have concerns about Covid-19, speak to a healthcare professional.”