Princess of Wales cancer diagnosis prompts 373% increase in searches for NHS advice

Visits to the NHS website cancer page rose by 373% following the announcement that the Princess of Wales has been diagnosed with the disease.

New figures from NHS England show that in the 24 hours after the princess revealed she was undergoing treatment last week, there were 2,840 visits to the page on cancer. That is nearly 5 times as many as over the same period the previous week, when there were 600 visits.

There was also a huge surge in visits to the NHS website’s cancer symptoms page following the release of the princess’s video message, with 4,172 visits in the 3 hours immediately afterwards – an average of 1 every 3 seconds. The page had 1,922 visits during the same timeframe a week earlier.

Numbers visiting that page peaked straight after the announcement, with 1,678 visits to the symptoms page between 6pm and 7pm last Friday.

The NHS website includes information on different forms of the disease, spotting early signs and types of treatment.

NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Cancer, Professor Peter Johnson, said: “Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be very daunting – it turns your life upside down and speaking about it can be really difficult for people – the Princess of Wales bravely speaking out about her diagnosis will help others to do the same.

“Thanks to this, we have seen a spike in people visiting vital information on our website about signs and symptoms – there is no doubt that talking about cancer saves lives if it encourages people to come forward sooner if things aren’t right.

“1 in 2 people will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime and detecting the disease early gives the best chance of successful treatment. Today in the NHS, we are checking more people than ever before and importantly, more cancers are being diagnosed at an early stage than ever before and survival rates are at an all-time high.

“Anyone with unusual or worrying symptoms should visit their GP and take up screening appointments when invited”.

Changes to your body’s normal processes or unusual, unexplained symptoms can sometimes be an early sign of cancer. Symptoms that need to be checked by a doctor include a lump that suddenly appears, unexplained bleeding and changes to your bowel habits.

In many cases symptoms will be caused by another condition, but if it is cancer, an early diagnosis means it’s easier to treat.

The NHS is seeing and treating record numbers of people for cancer, with almost 3 million people receiving potentially lifesaving cancer checks in the past year.

Making some simple changes to your lifestyle – such as healthy eating, taking regular exercise and not smoking – can also significantly reduce your risk of developing cancer.

The NHS website is the UK’s biggest health website and receives an average of 2 million visits each day from people seeking information and advice. It includes over 4,000 pages and provides information about 990 medical conditions.