Seek appointment with GP for persistent stomach troubles, urges NHS and Public Health England campaign

People with persistent stomach problems living in the South West are being urged to get checked for cancer.

People with persistent stomach problems living in the South West are being urged to get checked for cancer. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

People with persistent stomach problems living in the South West are being urged to get checked for cancer as part of the NHS and Public Health England’s Help Us Help You campaign. 

Residents should speak to their GP if they have symptoms including diarrhoea, bloating or discomfort in the tummy area which have lasted for three weeks or more, which could be a sign of cancer. 

The campaign comes as more than four in 10 people would leave it longer to get health advice than before the coronavirus outbreak, according to a study by Kantar.

The company surveyed a representative sample of 2,178 adults on their attitudes to seeking medical help from September compared to before the pandemic in March. 

NHS and Public Health England say hospitals have put extensive measures in place so people can get safely tested and treated, including rolling out Covid-protected hubs across the country and introducing treatment swaps, which require fewer trips to hospital and have less of an effect on cancer patients’ immune systems. 

Medical director of Public Health England, Dr Yvonne Doyle, 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. 

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“Don’t wait until it’s too late. Be positive, take control of your health and get in touch with your GP.” 

Pancreatic Cancer UK is also urging people to see a GP if they are worried about having symptoms of pancreatic cancer, which includes tummy and back pain, indigestion, itchy skin or yellow skin or eyes, unexplained weight loss and oily floating stool. 

The advice comes as during the first lockdown, people were ‘reluctant’ to seek medical help due to the pandemic, and the charity says around 500 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer from the Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon & Gloucestershire areas. 

Patient Bryony Thomas, who has been treated for pancreatic cancer, said: "For about three years before my diagnosis I had increasing fatigue, and a few months before I lost my appetite, lost a few pounds in weight, and had increasingly loose and pale stools.

"My advice is don’t ignore this stuff.” 

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