Don’t ignore that persistent tummy trouble is the message from the NHS ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign, a call backed by leaders of Black community groups.
The fear of catching COVID-19 has seen a rise in the number of people who are neglecting the signs that all may not be quite right with their health.
Recent research has found that more than four in 10 people would leave it longer to get health advice than they normally would have before the coronavirus outbreak. This can be disastrous as delaying treatment can have serious consequences for some cancers. Figures show that abdominal cancers account for 25% of all cancer diagnoses in England and 30% of all cancer deaths.
A key focus of NHS Public Health England’s ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign is to encourage people to not suffer in silence through any persistent tummy trouble, particularly if it lasts for more than three weeks. If you experience diarrhoea, bloating or discomfort in the tummy area, remember to seek health advice at the earliest opportunity.
“Many of us will ignore day to day discomfort, but when it’s lasting more than three weeks – it’s likely that your body is trying to tell you something.”
This important message is being backed by a number of community organisations including the Caribbean and African Health Network, and Ghana Nurses Association.
CEO of Caribbean and African Health Network, Charles Kwaku-Odoi, said: “Many of us will ignore day to day discomfort, but when it’s lasting more than three weeks – it’s likely that your body is trying to tell you something. The NHS has put many measures in place to see you safely, and we urge members of the public not to ignore their health. Look out for yourself and your loved ones – speak to a GP.”
It won’t come as a surprise that the fear of catching COVID-19 has had an impact. While there was a dip in referrals for these cancers at the peak of the first COVID wave, thankfully, more people are now coming forward for checks.
Hospitals have put extensive measures in place so that patients can get safely tested and treated, including by rolling out COVID-19 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.
Health professionals are urging people to not hesitate about getting in touch with their GP if they have concerns.
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.”
Search nhs.uk/cancersymptoms for more information.