People concerned about potential cancer symptoms should come forward for life-saving checks, the new head of NHS England has urged.

NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard said the NHS is open and ready to treat people, after launching the next phase of the Help Us, Help You campaign on Monday (16th August).

The launch comes as research shows that three in five people are concerned about burdening the NHS, with half saying they would delay seeking medical advice compared to before the pandemic.

The campaign will use TV and digital adverts, posters and social media campaigns to raise awareness of symptoms of cancers in the abdominal area, urological cancers, and lung cancer.

The adverts will feature people with a range of symptoms, such as prolonged discomfort in the abdominal region or a persistent cough, and aim to persuade people experiencing these symptoms to contact their GP.

Figures show that many people are unaware of common cancer warning signs 

While progress has been made, with more than 27,000 people starting cancer treatment in June (a 42% increase at the same time last year), the NHS chief stressed that there could be tens of thousands more people who are not coming forward, either because they’re unaware of common cancer symptoms or because they feel they would burden the NHS.

New figures from the NHS show that many people are unaware of common warning signs – which could prevent them from seeking help. Worryingly, 63% of people said they didn’t recognise discomfort in the abdominal area for three weeks or more as an indication of cancer.

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

"No one should be deterred from seeking potentially life-saving diagnosis and treatment"

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “When you speak to your GP – whether that’s face to face, on the phone or by email – if you’re worried that you might have cancer, mention that to them and attend any follow up tests your GP thinks are needed. If you do need to visit in-person but you have concerns about Covid-19, speak to a healthcare professional.”

Symptoms that could be possible signs of abdominal or urological cancers include: discomfort in the abdominal region for three weeks or more, diarrhoea for three weeks or more, and blood in your urine – even just once.

People are being reminded to contact their GP if they have any of these symptoms. You should also speak to your GP if you notice any other unusual changes, such as a lump, post-menopausal bleeding, or unexplained weight loss, as these can also be signs of cancer.

For lung cancer, symptoms can include: a cough for three weeks or more (that isn’t Covid), chest infections that keep coming back, and coughing up blood.

Health Minister, Lord Bethell, said: “No one should be deterred from seeking potentially life-saving diagnosis and treatment. The launch of the next phase of the NHS’s Help Us, Help You campaign will help raise awareness of the symptoms of certain cancers and encourage people to speak to their GP if they have any concerns”.