Almost half of people with potential cancer symptoms did not contact their GP during the first wave of the pandemic, a survey suggests.
Symptoms left unchecked included coughing up blood, lumps and changes to the appearance of moles.
NHS figures showed a fall in referrals to cancer services last spring. However, this study, of almost 8,000 people, captures the fall in people contacting their GP in the first place.
The team that carried out the study, from Cardiff University and Cancer Research UK, said this raised concerns that people could be diagnosed later - and so be less likely to be treated successfully and recover.
They surveyed a representative sample of people across the UK and found that of 3,025 people who said they had experienced at least one symptom which could be a warning sign of cancer, 45% did not seek help.
They also found that:
- 31% did not seek help after coughing up blood
- 41% did not seek help for an unexplained lump or swelling
- 59% did not seek help after noticing changes to the appearance of a mole.
Some of the reasons given by people who did not contact their GP were not wanting to waste doctors' time or put extra strain on the NHS; not wanting to be seen as someone who made a fuss; and fear of catching Covid at appointments.
But people who did contact their GP reported feeling "safe" and "secure" when attending face-to-face appointments.
Source: BBC News, 25 February 2021