Celebrities with cancer have joined NHS doctors to encourage the public to come forward for vital, life-saving checks.
Famous faces backing the move to increase take-up of NHS checks include two of the Nolan sisters who recently revealed their cancer diagnosis and former BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull.
Although the NHS has treated 85,000 people for cancer during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly half of the public said they had concerns seeking help in the midst of the outbreak. One in 10 said they wouldn’t contact their GP even if they had a lump or a new mole, because they were scared to attend medical appointments for fear of catching coronavirus.
Two of the Nolan sisters, Linda and Anne, recently announced that they were diagnosed with cancer within days of each other. Linda (pictured), who is now receiving chemotherapy for liver cancer at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, has urged people to seek help.
She said: “The care I’ve received has been nothing short of exceptional and I know people up and down the country have had similar experiences of the heroic work the NHS and staff are doing to deliver the vital care we all need, even as they deal with the ongoing pandemic. So while it might seem daunting, it’s important people know they can feel absolutely safe in the hands of the NHS going in for treatments.”
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 treatments which require fewer trips to hospital and less impact on cancer patients’ immune systems.
Linda added: “If there’s care or a treatment you need, don’t delay and contact your GP or NHS 111 to ask about any symptoms. It’s so important people get checked out when they need to. Cancer doesn’t wait and timing is everything. It might be the very thing that makes all the difference.”
The call to get checked follows a sharp drop in the number of people coming forward, with 141,643 referred in June compared to almost 200,000 during the same period last year.
Former BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull first talked about his diagnosis in 2018, which led to a 36% jump in people being referred for prostate cancer, and it is now the most common cancer in the country. Repeating the message, Bill said people must continue to come forward if they feel like something isn’t right.
“Cancer is a cruel disease and unfortunately it didn’t disappear during the coronavirus outbreak,” he said. “We know it’s all too easy to put something like this off, but please do contact the NHS if you have any signs of cancer.”
England’s top cancer doctor has also urged people to come forward for checks, warning that waiting to get help can have serious health consequences now and in the future. Professor Peter Johnson, NHS clinical director for cancer, said: “We cannot let covid become a reason for people not to get checked for cancer – NHS staff up and down the country have worked very hard to make sure that tests and treatment can go ahead quickly and safely.
“Cancers are detected earlier and lives are saved if more people are referred for checks so our message to you is to come forward – it could save your life.”
TV doctors Ranj Singh has echoed the call to come forward for checks. Dr Ranj, who regularly appears on ITV’s This Morning show, said: “Please go to your GP if you think there’s something wrong and it might be cancer. The key signs to look out for include; bleeding that’s not from an obvious injury, weight loss or loss of appetite, and any type of pain that just won’t go away.
“Usually, the chances are that it’s nothing serious, but it’s vital to find cancers early so treatment can be started sooner and then there’s a better chance of being cured.”