Thousands have ignored cancer symptoms in Covid lockdown – are YOU one of them?

HAVE you noticed something is up?

A lump or bump that wasn’t there a few weeks ago, or maybe you’ve suddenly lost weight despite not really trying.

Have you been to see your GP, or at least called for a phone consultation?

If the answer to that question is ‘no’, then book an appointment right now.

If you have noticed a symptom that could be cancer it is vital you see a doctor, and fast. 

What’s really worrying is that since the start of the Covid pandemic thousands of people have delayed seeing their GP.

There are lots of reasons why, from a fear of catching Covid to not wanting to heap more pressure on the NHS.

What matters is people just book an appointment and get any worrying signs or changes checked.

Cancer is the forgotten 'C'

Cancer hasn’t gone anywhere just because Covid is around.

This isn't the first time I have made this plea, I’ve been banging on about it for the last year.

I might as well have ‘Check your body, go to the GP and catch cancer early’ tattooed on my forehead.

Or maybe I should do a deal with Amazon Alexa? 

“Morning world, this is your daily reminder to check your body for signs of cancer. Anything you need to run past your GP today?”

With every month that passes by, I get more and more worried about the impact this pandemic is having on cancer patients.

I was diagnosed too late


THESE are some of the key signs to watch out for, according to Cancer Research UK. But if something is unusual or you notice something you’re worried about, speak to your GP.

  • croaky voice, hoarseness or a cough that won't go away
  • mouth or tongue ulcer that lasts longer than three weeks
  • coughing up blood
  • unusual changes to the size, shape or feel or a breast, including nipple or skin changes
  • a change in bowel habit, such as constipation, looser stools or pooing more often
  • blood in your poo
  • unexplained vaginal bleeding, including after sex, between periods or after the menopause
  • blood in your pee
  • problems peeing
  • breathlessness
  • difficulty swallowing
  • persistent heartburn or indigestion
  • loss of appetite
  • persistent bloating
  • very heavy night sweats
  • fatigue
  • unexplained weight loss
  • an unexplained pain or ache
  • an unusual lump or swelling anywhere on your body
  • a new mole or changes to a mole
  • a sore that won't heal

To find out more visit CRUK here.

I was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer four years ago.

By the time my cancer was diagnosed it was incurable. Had it been picked up earlier, that could have been very different.

So I know only too well how important it is to act on any symptoms quickly – and that was in a pre-Covid world.

Now, more than ever, I think people need to be more blunt about their symptoms.

I spent six months back and forth with my GP, I was told my changing bowel habits were “nothing to worry about”, or “just IBS”.

It took me showing them a picture of my poo before I ended up having more tests.

And even then it was too late – a large bowel tumour and eight lung tumours too late.

It scares me to think that if I had been going through that during the Covid pandemic I probably wouldn’t have lived very long.

Tsunami of cancer patients


FOUR years ago, almost to the day, I reached out to Bowel Cancer UK.

It was a few months after my incurable cancer diagnosis and I felt alone, scared and angry.

I felt like I was the only person in the world to experience this. 

The then CEO Deborah Alsina, came to see me while I was having chemo alongside Luke who is there still today. 

Suddenly I felt swept into a community I didn’t know existed. 

I met others and other families – all affected by bowel cancer through events. 

Over the years my friends and family have raised thousands of pounds for the charity from balls to marathons. 

But I have realised just how much more we have to do to ensure no one dies from bowel cancer. 

So today, I’m really honoured and proud to be named Patron of Bowel Cancer UK. 

Right now, bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, and quite simply I want us to get to a place where nobody dies of the disease.

I will do everything I can as a Patron to help make this a reality. More about this next week!

We are facing a tsunami of cancer patients diagnosed too late, as a result of these delays during Covid.

Two leading charities, Cancer Research UK and Macmillan have both warned of the devastating collateral damage again this week.

CRUK warned that the ‘Stay at Home’ message from the first lockdown could have sent the wrong message to the public, that cancer can wait.

It’s estimated that around 350,000 fewer cancer referrals were made between March and November last year, compared with the same period in 2019.

Not all of those would have turned out to be cancer, but it represents thousands of missed opportunities.

Were you one of them? Were any of your family one of them?

One of the scariest stats is the drop in people seeking help for symptoms of lung cancer.

It’s the biggest cancer killer in this country, and yet three in ten people who were coughing up blood didn’t seek help, according to CRUK.

Macmillan also revealed that they have seen a surge in calls to their helpline about possible early cancer signs, up by 53 per cent in the last six months.

NHS is open

It’s no surprise really. People are worried about wasting NHS time, they’re concerned about putting extra pressure on the health service, and don’t want to be seen as someone who makes a fuss.

But the message from NHS staff  could not be clearer.

The NHS is open and doctors and nurses would much rather be safe than sorry.

Right now, they know people are staying away and as a result they know cancer cases are being missed.

The question you need to ask yourself is, are you one of them?

If you are – or even think you are – pick up the phone now and make the call.

We are all on high alert for any sign or symptom of Covid. Just imagine if we could do the same for any warning signs of cancer!

Your life really could depend on it.

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