People are being urged to seek help for potential symptoms of cancer after it emerged that fewer are coming forward during the pandemic.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said that the latest NHS data for England shows fewer people are being referred for help for lung cancer and urological cancers because they are not coming forward for help.
Data for November shows that while most referrals for suspected cancer were similar to 2019 levels, referrals for lung cancer were at 71% and urological cancers were at 85% compared to the previous year.
As a result the Health Secretary and NHS clinical director for cancer are calling on the public to speak to their GP if they are worried about symptoms.
They stressed that cancer diagnosed at an earlier stage is more likely to be successfully treated.
And the NHS has robust measures in place to protect cancer patients, and those being screened for cancer, from Covid-19, DHSC said.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This World Cancer Day we should come together to commit that diagnosing and treating cancer is a top priority.
“If you notice any unusual symptoms which last more than a few weeks, however mild you think they might be, please come forward and discuss it with your GP.
“The sooner you speak to your GP, the sooner a diagnosis can be made, the sooner treatment can start, and the more lives we can save.
“I also urge anyone with cancer in the clinically extremely vulnerable category to ensure you get your Covid-19 jab when you get the call, so we can ensure all of the most vulnerable in society are protected from this devastating virus.”
Professor Peter Johnson, clinical director for cancer for the NHS in England, said: “The NHS has had a year like no other and – while Covid has put the health service under huge pressure – doctors, nurses and specialist clinicians have still carried out nearly 1.5 million cancer checks with more than 200,000 people starting treatment.
“Catching cancer early saves lives which is why we are using this World Cancer Day to urge anyone with a worrying symptom to help us help you by getting it checked out and come forward for your routine screenings when offered an appointment.”