THOUSANDS of women who put breast cancer checks on hold have been urged: Don’t delay, see your GP today.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock assured patients the NHS is ready to help those who think they may have noticed symptoms during the pandemic lockdown.
He issued his message as figures showed thousands have missed out on hospital checks because of concerns about coronavirus.
Experts fear that avoidable deaths this year from all forms of cancer could reach 35,000 — almost as many as the Covid toll — unless patients, GPs and hospitals all respond quickly.
NHS England stats show there were 7,130 urgent breast cancer referrals during April and May, compared with 32,555 for the same months last year.
Survival rates are much higher if the disease is diagnosed and treated early.
Mr Hancock told HOAR on Sunday: “It’s really important if anybody has concerns about breast cancer that they contact their GP straight away.
“Breast cancer can affect men and women, and I want everyone to know that if they need the NHS it is open and there for them.”
Charities estimate that about two million screening appointments have not been sent out.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, of the research and care charity Breast Cancer Now, said: “We are extremely concerned about the major drop in the number of people referred to see a specialist.
“While the number is starting to recover we are some way from what we would normally expect to see.
“We know that many women are concerned or uncertain about getting possible cancer symptoms checked out during the coronavirus outbreak.
“It’s so important everyone knows that they can still get in touch with their GP urgently if they notice an unusual change in their breasts.
“If you’re worried about a possible symptom, don’t wait to report it.”
Baroness Morgan added that checking your breasts was as simple as TLC — Touch, Look, Check.
More than 90 per cent of women diagnosed at the earliest stage of the disease survive for at least five years, compared with 15 per cent at the advanced stage.
Lisa Allen, of charity the Pink Ribbon Foundation, said: “Covid-19 has made receiving treatment more difficult and caused greater anxiety and stress.
“Early diagnosis is so important when it comes to cancer.
“We urge people to continue supporting cancer charities if they can during these difficult times. And if you notice any changes or have symptoms that you are worried about, please don’t put it off.
“Seek medical advice as soon as possible.”
Natalie Haskell from breast cancer charity CoppaFeel! said: “Breast cancer remains the most common cancer in the UK and many people will be worrying about changes to their breasts during this period.
“Breast cancer is very treatable if found early. We urge people to listen to the NHS and continue to seek out their GP as normal if they are concerned about symptoms.”
If you have concerns about the disease you can also call the Breast Cancer Now free helpline on 0808 800 6000.
Above is a five-step self examination you can do at home to check your breasts for any changes.
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