They ignored persistent signs such as lumps, changing skin moles and coughing up blood, claiming they were worried about bothering health workers and putting strain on the NHS. Researchers think the Govern-ment’s message urging people to stay indoors may have inadvertently encouraged patients to believe “cancer can wait”.
Kate Bain, a health psychologist at Cardiff’s school of medicine, said potential cancer patients had “put their health concerns on hold to protect the NHS”.
She said: “The Government’s message to ‘stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’ – intended to control the spread of Covid-19 – also sent a strong message that cancer can wait. We also need to send a strong and clear message that cancer cannot wait, that people should contact their GP with any unusual or persistent symptoms.”
Ms Bain is among the study team at Cardiff University and Cancer Research UK which has stressed that the NHS is “open safely” and urged people to get symptoms checked.
The survey of 7,543 people between March and August found 40 percent experienced one potential symptom. Only 45 percent saw their GP.
Nearly 59 percent of those with a suspicious mole failed to act on it, along with 41 per cent with an unexplained lump and 30 percent of those who coughed up blood.
Michelle Mitchell, of Cancer Research UK, said: “Worryingly we don’t yet know what the pandemic’s long-term impact on cancer stage and survival will be.
“So it’s vital people don’t delay contacting their GP if they notice any unusual changes to their body.”