Beating bowel cancer together

New campaign urges people to get bowel cancer symptoms checked

Friday 9 October 2020

The NHS has today launched a major new campaign, encouraging people with possible cancer symptoms, including signs of bowel cancer, to seek medical advice.

Famous faces, including TV chefs Gordon Ramsay and Nadiya Hussain, and actress Emma Thompson, are backing the Help Us Help You campaign, which urges anyone concerned about cancer to get their symptoms checked. It also asks people to keep routine appointments, after new research found that nearly half (48%) of the public would delay or not seek medical help at all.

A fifth (22%) would not want to be a burden on the health service, while a similar number said that fear of catching coronavirus or passing it onto others was a major reason for not getting help.

More than four in 10 people would leave it longer to get health advice than they normally would have done before the coronavirus outbreak.

The campaign will use TV adverts, billboards and social media to urge people to speak to their GP if they are worried about a symptom that could be cancer.

In the first television advert, which launches today, a man stands in his bathroom looking back at his loo, and says: "Just a bit of blood. That's new."

Bleeding from your bottom or blood in your poo is one of the red flag symptoms of bowel cancer. The disease is the UK's fourth most common cancer, with around 42,000 new cases of the disease diagnosed in the UK every year.

Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive at Bowel Cancer UK, says: "We're concerned that people are putting their health at risk by not getting worrying symptoms checked out.

"Bowel cancer is the UK's second biggest cancer killer, but it doesn't have to be, as it's treatable and curable, especially if it's diagnosed early. So it's really important that anybody with signs of the disease, including bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo, a persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness for no obvious reason and a pain or lump in your tummy, contacts their GP straight away.

"We're pleased the NHS has launched this campaign to encourage more people to seek help for their symptoms, as early diagnosis really does save lives."

England’s top GP also asks that people do not hesitate to get help, as waiting could have serious consequences for patients.

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and medical director for primary care in England, said: "Alongside treating 110,000 people with coronavirus, NHS staff have gone to great lengths to make sure that people who do not have Covid can safely access services.

"So whether you or a loved one has a routine appointment, or a potential cancer symptom, our message is clear – you are not a burden, we are here to safely care for you so please don't delay – Help Us Help You and come forward as you usually would.

"Cancer is easier to treat when it's caught at an earlier stage and so coming forward for a check could save your life."

NHS services have put a range of measures in place so that people can be treated safely throughout the pandemic including Covid protected cancer surgery hubs, a Covid friendly drugs fund which means fewer trips to hospital, and chemotherapy being delivered in more convenient locations.

The cancer Help Us Help You advert, which is on television from today, is available here.

  • Read more about the symptoms of bowel cancer

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