New NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard has called for patients to be checked for cancer.
Ms Pritchard stressed that there could be tens of thousands more people who are not coming forward, either because they’re unaware of common cancer symptoms, or because they feel they would burden the NHS.
Despite abdominal and urological cancers accounting for nearly half (44%) of all cancer diagnoses and two in five (41%) cancer deaths in England, new figures from the NHS show that many people are unaware of common warning signs – which could prevent them seeking help.
Three in five (63%) people said they didn’t recognise discomfort in the abdominal area for three weeks or more as an indication of cancer.
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‘We know that thousands of people could be risking their lives by delaying medical attention for cancer symptoms. We are open and ready to treat people with potential cancer symptoms. From Monday, this campaign will remind people of the signs and symptoms to look out for and encourage them to get checked if something isn’t quite right,’ said Ms Pritchard.
‘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. 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.’
Research shows that three in five people (60%) are concerned about burdening the NHS, with half (49%) saying they would delay seeking medical advice compared to before the pandemic. Around a quarter of a million people were checked for cancer in June, the second highest number on record, and treatment numbers have been back at usual levels since March. More than 27,000 people started treatment for cancer in June, a 42% increase on the same time last year.
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‘NHS staff have pulled out all the stops to prioritise cancer care throughout the pandemic, with millions of diagnostic tests now being carried out a month. Thanks to their dedication, the NHS is open for us all and anyone who has concerns should come forward,’ said Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid.
‘If you suspect you might have symptoms of cancer, as highlighted by this important new campaign, don’t hesitate to seek advice from your GP. The earlier we can spot cancer, the more lives we can save.’