Patients are delaying cancer checks because of difficulties booking GP appointments, damning study reveals

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Britons with cancer symptoms are deterred from seeking help because of their difficulties securing GP appointments, a damning study has revealed.

Cancer Research UK warned that the ‘worrying’ delays could damage the chances of survival.

The charity acknowledged it was ‘not always easy’ to see a family doctor but stressed that anyone who fears they may have the disease ‘should persist’.

Its poll, which surveyed 4,000 people, found almost half (48 per cent) of those who have experienced a potential cancer symptom did not contact their GP within six months.

Cancer Research UK warned that the ‘worrying’ delays could damage the chances of survival (Stock Image)

Even 47 per cent of patients with ‘red flag’ symptoms such as an unexplained lump or coughing up blood waited at least this long.

One in five (20 per cent) respondents said a main reason they delayed contacting their GP was because they ‘find it difficult to get an appointment’, 13 per cent said they struggled to get one at a convenient time and 11 per cent did not want to be seen as someone who makes a fuss.

Similar numbers were worried about wasting their GP’s time (12 per cent), feared they would not be taken seriously (10 per cent) or had concerns about putting extra strain on the NHS (10 per cent).

Dr Richard Roope, a GP and primary care adviser for Cancer Research UK, said: ‘I would urge people to contact their surgery if they spot anything they’re concerned about. This is not always easy, but they should persist.’

Even 47 per cent of patients with 'red flag' symptoms such as an unexplained lump or coughing up blood waited at least six months to contact their GP (Stock Image)

Even 47 per cent of patients with ‘red flag’ symptoms such as an unexplained lump or coughing up blood waited at least six months to contact their GP (Stock Image)

The survey shows people are generally good at knowing the signs of cancer – with respondents able to recognise an average of 12 out of 15 of the most common symptoms – but has raised concerns that some decline invitations to screenings because they wrongly believe they are only for those with symptoms.

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘If people have signs that could be serious illness such as cancer, they should make an appointment without delay.’

An NHS England spokesman said: ‘While cancer survival is at an all-time high, it remains crucial for people to come forward and get checked if they have symptoms – with GPs now able to directly refer people for tests.’

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