NHS England Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard has said that the NHS is ‘open and ready’ for anyone displaying potential cancer symptoms, and urges the public to recognise the signs


New NHS England Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard is urging members of the public to come forward for life-saving cancer checks if they have potential symptoms of cancer, saying that the NHS is ‘open and ready’ to treat people.

The comments were made as NHS England launched the next phase of the Help Us, Help You campaign with support from Public Health England. The campaign will use television and digital adverts, posters, and social media to raise awareness of symptoms of cancers in the abdominal area, urological cancers, and lung cancer.

Signs and symptoms

Research shows that three in five people (60%) are concerned about burdening the NHS, with half (49%) saying that they would delay seeking medical advice compared with before the pandemic.

However, Amanda Pritchard stressed that there could be many more people who are not coming forward, either because they’re unaware of common cancer symptoms, or because they feel that they would burden the NHS.

‘We know that thousands of people could be risking their lives by delaying medical attention for cancer symptoms. We are open and ready to treat people with potential cancer symptoms. From Monday [16 August], this campaign will remind people of the signs and symptoms to look out for and encourage them to get checked if something isn’t quite right.

‘Thanks to the hard work of NHS staff, we are back on track with cancer referrals, diagnosis, and treatment so, whether you or a loved one has a routine appointment, or a potential cancer symptom, please don’t delay and come forward to get yourself checked—we would rather see you sooner when any cancer would be easier to treat.

‘It’s incredibly important that people recognise the common symptoms that can signal a cancer diagnosis—and it’s vital that they take action by making an appointment with their GP, that could ultimately save their life.’

Help Us, Help You

Around a quarter of a million people were checked for cancer in June, the second-highest number on record, and treatment numbers have been back at usual levels since March. More than 27,000 people started treatment for cancer in June, a 42% increase on the same time last year.

Despite abdominal and urological cancers accounting for nearly half (44%) of all cancer diagnoses and two in five (41%) cancer deaths in England, new figures from the NHS show that many people are unaware of common warning signs, which could prevent them seeking help. Three in five (63%) people said that they didn’t recognise discomfort in the abdominal area for 3 weeks or more as an indication of cancer.

Alongside abdominal and urological cancers, the campaign will also highlight common signs of lung cancer, after research has found that two in five people don’t recognise that a persistent cough for more than 3 weeks is a sign of the disease. There is also concern that the symptom could easily be confused with COVID-19.

The Help Us, Help You advertisement campaign will feature people with a range of symptoms, such as prolonged discomfort in the abdominal area or a persistent cough, and aims to persuade people experiencing these symptoms to contact their GP.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, commented: ‘NHS staff have pulled out all the stops to prioritise cancer care throughout the pandemic, with millions of diagnostic tests now being carried out a month. Thanks to their dedication, the NHS is open for us all and anyone who has concerns should come forward.

 ‘I will continue to support the NHS to deliver the appointments, operations, and treatment people need, as we get back to normal life as quickly as possible.’