People with persistent tummy troubles in Lancashire and South Cumbria including diarrhoea, bloating or discomfort in the tummy area, are being urged to get checked for cancer as part of the NHS and Public Health England’s ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign.
TV adverts and social media posts in Lancashire and South Cumbria are urging people to speak to their GP if they have a symptom including diarrhoea, bloating or discomfort in the tummy area for three weeks or more as they could be a sign of cancer.
Figures show that 11,694 of people are diagnosed with cancers in the abdominal area in the North West every year, which includes ovarian, kidney and bowel cancers.
More than four in ten people would leave it longer to get health advice than they normally would have before the coronavirus outbreak, however delaying can have serious consequences for some cancers.
While there was a dip in referrals for these cancers at the peak of the first COVID wave, now referrals have reached more than 100% of pre-pandemic levels in Lancashire and South Cumbria.
Hospitals have put extensive measures in place so that patients can get safely tested and treated, including by rolling out Covid protected hubs across the country and introducing treatment swaps that require fewer trips to hospital and have less of an effect on cancer patients’ immune systems.
People should not hesitate to get in touch with their GP if they have concerns. Local NHS health services have plans in place so people can continue to get tests and treatment during the pandemic.
Dr Neil Smith, local GP and Primary Care Director for Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Alliance, said: “The NHS is still here for you. Early diagnosis of cancer saves lives. It is essential that people continue to talk about their concerns about cancer. If you keep having tummy troubles such as loose poo, bloating or an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach, or other worrying symptoms, please contact your doctor. Let’s talk cancer.”
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and medical director for primary care for NHS England, said: “If you or a loved one has one of these symptoms, please don’t ignore them. Our message to you is clear – you are not a burden and we are here to safely treat you so please don’t delay – help us help you and come forward as you usually would for care.
“Cancer is easier to treat when it is caught at an earlier stage and so coming forward for a check could save your life.”
Dr Philippa Kaye, media medic, GP and diagnosed with bowel cancer: “As both a GP and someone who has had bowel cancer myself, I have seen the situation from both sides and can honestly say, if you’re experiencing any tummy troubles for a few weeks, your GP will want to know about it. Hopefully it’s nothing serious but if it is cancer there are lots of treatment options available and the earlier cancer is found, the better. I know that some of my patients are nervous to come to my clinic because of coronavirus, but the NHS has put measures in place to ensure we can see you safely. So please, come and see us.”
Dr Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director of Public Health England, said: “Far too many of us ignore what our body is trying to tell us. We say to ourselves it’s nothing really, we don’t want to make a fuss. But if you’re getting persistent stomach problems it may be a sign of cancer, possibly bowel, kidney or ovarian cancer. It’s so important you find out for sure as early as possible. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Be positive, take control of your health, get in touch with your GP. Our NHS has adapted its services and can see you safely.”
The new drive is part of NHS England & Improvement, and Public Health England’s the ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign, which looks to address the barriers that are stopping patients from accessing NHS services. The campaign reminds people that the NHS has adapted its services and can still see patients safely.
Advice and information about cancer signs and symptoms:
Visit nhs.uk/cancersymptoms for more information.
Find out more about the Lancashire and South Cumbria Let’s Talk Cancer campaign at https://letstalkcancer.uk/