You should see a GP if you have any possible cancer symptoms (Composite: Mark Hall / NationalWorld)

Cancer symptoms: 9 ‘red flags’ not to ignore amid warning half of UK adults fail to see GP over body changes

Not seeing a GP about unusual health changes or possible cancer symptoms can lead to devastating outcomes

Half of UK adults with a possible cancer symptom fail to contact their GP within six months, despite noticing changes to their body, research suggests.

Just 48% of people who had experienced a ‘red flag’ symptom of cancer contacted their doctor within half a year, according to a YouGov poll of 2,468 adults for Cancer Research UK.

The charity warns that not telling a GP about unusual health changes or symptoms reduces the chances of an early cancer diagnosis, which could lead to potentially devastating outcomes.

More than nine in 10 (92%) of patients who are diagnosed with bowel cancer at stage one (the earliest stage), for example, will survive for five years or more. By comparison, only one in 10 (10%) survive when diagnosed at stage four (the latest stage).

The survey also found that patients from higher socioeconomic backgrounds were more likely to be successful in making an appointment (81%), compared with those from a lower socioeconomic group (74%).

After an appointment, those from a lower socioeconomic background were less likely (48%) to go back to their GP if a possible cancer symptom did not go away than those from a higher socioeconomic background (60%).

Early diagnosis makes treatment more effective and therefore improves chances of survival. However, people from poorer backgrounds are more likely to be diagnosed via an emergency route which results in worse experiences of treatment and poorer survival rates, experts say.

Every year, 30,000 extra cases of cancer in the UK are attributable to socioeconomic deprivation, according to Cancer Research UK.

Help-seeking expert for Cancer Research UK Professor Katriina Whitaker said: “People from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to face barriers at every stage of cancer care. But the first step of getting to the doctor can seem like the hardest.

“Help-seeking is a huge hurdle for many people with cancer symptoms to overcome. It’s not only about knowledge of symptoms, but also social support, where you live, occupation and access to information.”

If you have been experiencing any unusual or worrying symptoms and are concerned it could be cancer, you should seek advice from your GP as soon as possible.

If you are unsure what symptoms to look for, these are nine red flag cancer symptoms that you should not ignore.

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