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Don’t ignore cancer concerns due to covid crisis

12:00am | & Health

Famous faces, including TV chefs Gordon Ramsay, Nadiya Hussein, and actress Emma Thompson are backing a major new campaign urging anyone concerned about cancer to get checked and keep routine appointments.

The campaign comes as new research found that nearly half (48%) of the public would delay or not seek medical help at all. More than a fifth (22%) would not want to be a burden on the health service while a similar number said that fear of getting coronavirus or passing it onto others was a major reason for not getting help.

More than four in ten people said would leave it longer to get health advice than they normally would have before the coronavirus outbreak, but delaying can have serious consequences for some cancers. NHS staff have pulled out all the stops to keep cancer services going throughout the pandemic, with almost a million people referred for checks or starting treatment since the virus took hold.

The NHS’s Help Us Help You access campaign will use TV adverts, billboards and social media to urge people to speak to their GP if they are worried about a symptom that could be cancer, and also remind pregnant women to attend check-ups and seek advice if they are worried about their baby.

Among the celebrities backing the campaign is TV chef Gordon Ramsey (pictured), who said: “As we head into winter, it’s really important that we remember that despite COVID-19, the NHS can still see us safely. I was really pleased to help reassure the public and remind them that the NHS is here for them when they need it.”

England’s top GP says people should not hesitate to get help and that waiting could have serious consequences for patients. Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and medical director for primary care in England, said: “Alongside treating 110,000 people with coronavirus, NHS staff have gone to great lengths to make sure that people who do not have COVID can safely access services.

“So whether you or a loved one has a routine appointment, or a potential cancer symptom, our message is clear – you are not a burden, we are here to safely care for you so please don’t delay – Help Us Help You and come forward as you usually would. Cancer is easier to treat when it’s caught at an earlier stage, so coming forward for a check could save your life.”

NHS services have put a range of measures in place so that people can be treated safely throughout the pandemic including COVID protected cancer surgery hubs, a COVID friendly drugs fund which means fewer trips to hospital and chemotherapy being delivered in more convenient locations.

Symptoms of cancer include:

  • Changes in bowel habits, including blood in your poo
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A lump
  • Persistent bloating
  • Pain that does not go away

Steven McIntosh, from Macmillan Cancer Support, added: “We cannot say this strongly enough: if you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of cancer – say you notice something new or unusual –  we urge you to contact your GP straight away. Delays to cancer diagnosis and treatment can make it harder to treat the cancer and can also reduce people’s chance of survival.  Don’t put it off, and don’t think you’re not a priority during coronavirus.”

You can watch the ‘Help Us Help You’ TV advert by clicking here.

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