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Too scared to see the doctor?

We all become unwell from time-to-time and on occasion have to make a visit to our local GP surgery. However a survey published last week in the Guardian has revealed that half of the UK population would not make an appointment to see their GP for fear of wasting a doctor’s time, even if they discover that they have a potential symptom of cancer.

As a population we are for ever concerned about wasting people’s time, even when it comes to our health. The survey which interviewed 2,000 people also revealed that 1 in 4 of us would put off having a symptom examined through worry of what the doctor may find. A further 13% of people would not arrange an appointment as the time slot was inconvenient, whilst 8% said they would be too embarrassed and 7% were too busy.

It has also been revealed that only 49%, less than half, of the 2,000 individuals surveyed would always seek medical assistance immediately if they became aware of a symptom that could be a sign of cancer, such as a lump (the Guardian).

It is alarming to think that the results of this survey are part of the reason for the UK’s continuing poor record of diagnosing cancer early. Delay and reluctance to have symptoms examined could be costing lives. The NHS has tried to educate the public about the need to act quickly upon discovery of a potential sign of cancer. The 12 Be Clear on Cancer campaigns which ran from 2013 – 2015 highlighted a different form of cancer and their associated symptoms. The result of the campaigns led to more GP referrals for urgent investigations.

It is hoped that the same will occur and more referrals will be made with a new awareness campaign focusing on cervical cancer in early 2019, particularly as the number of women attending cervical screenings has hit a record low in the last 20 years. It is clear that raising awareness encourages people to come forward and make that all important trip to the GP, as was seen in 2008 when Jade Goody was sadly diagnosed with cervical cancer. However the ‘Jade Goody’ effect has since fallen by the wayside, which shows just how important it is to continue to campaign and educate the public of the potential signs of cancer.

It is vital that people get worrying symptoms checked out and that if people do pluck up the courage, their GP does not delay in referring them appropriately. Early detection is key. If you have a symptom which you believe could be cancer, please visit your GP. It could save your life.

The clinical negligence department at JMW are experienced in handling cases of late diagnosis of cancer. If you would like to talk to one of the members of the team about your own experience, please do not hesitate to contact us.


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