Record 2.1million people go for cancer checks as 6,000 patients a day are seen

A record 2.1million Britons were checked for cancer last year, raising hopes that fewer people are letting embarrassment stop them having vital tests.

Many men have been too ashamed to talk about the sexual problems which are the first sign of prostate cancer.

Women, meanwhile, can be too self-conscious to have smear tests which can pinpoint cervical cancer.

High-profile prostate cancer sufferers Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull are thought to have raised vital public awareness to stop people ¿dying of embarrassment¿

High-profile prostate cancer sufferers Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull are thought to have raised vital public awareness to stop people ‘dying of embarrassment’

However, high-profile prostate cancer sufferers Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull are thought to have raised vital public awareness to stop people ‘dying of embarrassment’.

A Daily Mail campaign on the issue also made many more men aware of the symptoms.

Latest figures from NHS England show that 2.1million people were checked for cancer in 2018 following urgent GP referrals. This was equivalent to almost 6,000 a day and a rise of nearly 250,000 on the 1.9million seen in 2017.

The largest increase – up 18.8 per cent last year compared to 2017 – was for urological cancers, including prostate. Checks for breast and testicular cancers rose 15.1 per cent in the same period.

The increase for skin cancer was 17.2 per cent while tests for lower gastrointestinal cancers rose 16.3 per cent although checks for lung cancer fell by nearly two per cent. After the Mail renewed its campaign to End the Needless Prostate Deaths, the number of visits to the NHS advice page for prostate cancer soared 250 per cent to 70,000 in a single month.

BBC war reporter Jeremy Bowen has also raised awareness, revealing this month he was diagnosed with bowel cancer after going to his GP with pains in his back and legs.

Early last year Fry, 61, revealed he had undergone prostate cancer surgery, while ex-BBC Breakfast host Turnbull, 63, was diagnosed in 2017 and has had chemotherapy

Early last year Fry, 61, revealed he had undergone prostate cancer surgery, while ex-BBC Breakfast host Turnbull, 63, was diagnosed in 2017 and has had chemotherapy

Cally Palmer, NHS England’s national director for cancer, said: ‘Thanks to a greater awareness of symptoms, more people than ever are coming forward to get checked.

‘We want to see even more seeking help when something is not right. Catching cancer earlier when it can be treated best is crucial to saving lives.’

Early last year Fry, 61, revealed he had undergone prostate cancer surgery, while ex-BBC Breakfast host Turnbull, 63, was diagnosed in 2017 and has had chemotherapy.

Both have advised men with symptoms, such as having to urinate more frequently, to get tested. As well as raised awareness, an ageing population is likely to be a factor in the higher number of tests.

The figures also show that a record 308,058 patients began treatment for cancer last year, nearly 13,000 more than 2017.

However, last month NHS England data revealed almost a quarter of cancer patients do not start treatment within the 62-day target from GP referral.

The NHS Long Term Plan aims to increase the proportion of cancers caught early from half to three-quarters. Emma Greenwood, director of policy at Cancer Research UK, said the target for 2028 would not be met without more staff.

 

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