Bedfordians must not delay getting life-saving cancer checks as NHS says “we are open and ready to treat people”


NHS East of England has said they’re “open and ready to treat people” as they warn people that delaying a cancer check could cost them their lives.

It follows the launch of an NHS England campaign that focuses on helping people spot the symptoms of abdominal and urological cancers and lung cancer.

The ads on TV, digital, and posters feature people with a range of symptoms, such as prolonged discomfort in the tummy area or a persistent cough, and aims to persuade people experiencing these to contact their GP.

People worried about being a burden

Dr Sean O’Kelly, Medical Director and Chief Clinical Information Officer for NHS England and NHS Improvement East of England, is also reassuring people coming for life-saving cancer checks is not a burden on the NHS.

Recent data by the NHS data shows that three in five people are concerned about burdening the NHS, with half (49%) saying they would delay seeking medical advice compared to before the pandemic.

However, more than 16,800 people in the east are diagnosed with abdominal or urological cancers each year.

Abdominal and urological cancers accounting for around 6,700 cancer deaths a year in our region.

“People could be risking their lives by delaying medical attention for cancer symptoms and I want to reassure the community we are open and ready to treat people,” said Dr O’Kelly.

“NHS staff are working hard on 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.”

Abdominal and urological cancers accounting for around 6,700 cancer deaths a year in the east, new figures from the NHS show that many people are unaware of common warning signs – which could prevent them seeking help.

Symptoms to look out for

Three in five people said they didn’t know discomfort in the abdominal area for three weeks or more could be an indication of cancer.

The same research found that two in five people didn’t realise a persistent cough for more than three weeks could be a sign of lung cancer.

Abdominal or urological cancers symptoms include:

  • Discomfort in the tummy area for three weeks or more
  • Diarrhoea for three weeks or more
  • Persistent constipation
  • Blood in your pee – even just once
  • Continuous nausea/feeling sick.

Contact your GP if you have any of these symptoms.

You should also speak to your GP if you notice any other unusual changes, such as a lump in the tummy area, post-menopausal bleeding, or unexplained weight loss.

These can also be signs of cancer.

Lung cancer symptoms can include:

  • A cough for three weeks or more that isn’t Covid
  • Chest infections that keep coming back
  • Coughing up blood

“Come forward to get yourself checked,” added Dr O’Kelly.

“We would rather see you sooner when any cancer would be easier to treat. If you notice any worrying symptoms it’s vital that you take action and make an appointment with your GP; it could ultimately save your life.”

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