Help Us, Help You campaign urges people not to ignore persistent tummy troubles

People with persistent tummy troubles in the South East including diarrhoea, bloating or discomfort in the tummy area, are being urged to get checked for cancer as part of the NHS and Public Health England’s ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign.

TV adverts and social media posts in the South East will urge people to speak to their GP if they have a symptom including diarrhoea, bloating or discomfort in the tummy area for three weeks or more as they could be a sign of cancer.

Figures show that 14,181 people are diagnosed with cancers in the abdomen in the South East every year, which includes ovarian, kidney and bowel cancers.

More than 4 in ten people would leave it longer to get health advice than they normally would have before the coronavirus outbreak,[1] however delaying can have serious consequences for some cancers.

While there was a dip in referrals for these cancers at the peak of the first COVID wave, more people are now coming forward for checks.[2]

Hospitals have put extensive measures in place so that patients can get safely tested and treated, including by rolling out COVID protected hubs across the country and introducing treatment swaps that require fewer trips to hospital and have less of an effect on cancer patients’ immune systems.

The NHS Medical Director for the South East has said people should not hesitate to get in touch with their GP if they have concerns and reassured the public that local health services have plans in place so people can continue to get tests and treatment.

Vaughan Lewis, South East Medical Director for NHS England and Improvement, said: “If you or a loved one has one of these symptoms, please don’t ignore them. Our message to you is clear – you are not a burden and we are here to safely treat you so please don’t delay – help us help you and come forward as you usually would for care.

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

Karen shares her experience of having cancer surgery at Spire Hospital, Southampton during the Covid-19 pandemic, said:

“I’d never had any surgery or anaestehic before so I was quite apprehensive I must admit, but they looked after me from start to finish and I didn’t have any worries considering it was new for me. The hospital was fabulous, they did warn me that when I went into the operating theatre all the staff would be wearing extra things, but it wasn’t anything to worry about, so I didn’t.

“if you have a cancer diagnosis please go straight away, don’t wait, just let the hospital do what theyre best at doing.”

Dr Michael Baker, Deputy Director of Healthcare Public Health for Public Health England South East, 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. It’s so important you find out for sure as early as possible. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Be positive, take control of your health, get in touch with your GP. Our NHS has adapted its services and can see you safely.”

The new drive is part of NHS England & Improvement, and Public Health England’s the ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign which looks to address the barriers that are deterring patients from accessing NHS services. The campaign reminds people that the NHS has adapted its services and can still see patients safely.

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