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Persistent cough, tummy troubles or blood in your pee? Get it checked out by your GP

20th August 2021 | By Liz Mattock | Posted in

People with potential cancer symptoms are being encouraged to come forward for lifesaving checks as part of a national NHS campaign.

The campaign, backed by the NHS in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR), highlights the symptoms of lung, abdominal and urological cancers and patients are urged to get any of these symptoms checked out by their GP without delay.

Anyone who has had a persistent cough, or tummy troubles such as discomfort or diarrhoea for three weeks or more, or seen blood in their pee – even just once – should contact their GP practice.

NHS England chief executive, Amanda Pritchard, launched the campaign this week, saying that the NHS is open and ready to treat people.

NHS data shows that more than three thousand people in LLR were diagnosed with lung, abdominal or urological cancers in 2018. But 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[1].

The NHS chief 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.

Dr Paul Danaher, lead GP for cancer in Leicester, said: “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. 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.

The good news is that cancer survival is improving and has doubled in the last 40 years in the UK, but it’s easier to treat if it’s diagnosed at an early stage. In the East Midlands in 2018, fewer than three in ten (30%) cancers of the lung, stomach, pancreas and oesophagus were diagnosed early, at stage 1 or 2. That’s why this campaign is so important.”

Despite lung, abdominal and urological cancers accounting for 1,612 cancer deaths in LLR in 2018, 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. Two in five people don’t recognise that a persistent cough for more than three weeks can be a sign of lung cancer and there is also concern the symptom could easily be confused with Covid-19.

For 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

Symptoms that could be possible signs of abdominal or urological cancers include:

  • Discomfort in the tummy area for three weeks or more
  • Diarrhoea for three weeks or more
  • Blood in your pee – even just once

People in LLR are reminded to contact their GP if they have any of these symptoms. People should also speak to their GP if they notice any other unusual changes, such as a lump in the tummy area, bleeding after the change (menopause), or unexplained weight loss, as these can also be signs of cancer.

Nationally, 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.

Dr Danaher said: “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 and more likely to be cured.”

“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.”


[1] Respondents were interviewed on the Kantar omnibus 30th June to 2nd July. The omnibus surveys a representative sample of the population aged 16+. The questions were asked in England among a total sample of 2,002

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