Thousands checked for cancer across Merseyside and Cheshire
1 year ago
Over three times more people are being sent for urgent cancer checks across Merseyside and Cheshire than at the start of the pandemic, figures show.
Referrals of suspected cancer cases by GPs fell to just over 4,000 in April 2020 but were up to more than 13,700 in November last year – with more than 140,000 patients checked for cancer over the last year after contacting their GP practice.
Nationally, record numbers of people are coming forward for cancer tests, with almost a quarter of a million referrals in one month, according to the latest NHS data. The national figures show that 246,000 people were checked for cancer in November 2021 – three times as many compared to April 2020, when people were reluctant to come forward.
The numbers also show that across Cheshire and Merseyside, nine in 10 patients are being treated for cancer within a month, this not having dipped below 90% during the pandemic, which is in line with national statistics.
The NHS is continuing to urge anyone with worrying signs and symptoms not to put off vital checks and to follow the example of the hundreds of thousands of people who are already coming forward each month. Common symptoms of cancer include diarrhoea that lasts for three weeks or more, new lumps or bumps and unexplained weight loss or fatigue.
Professor Peter Johnson, NHS England National Clinical Director for Cancer, said:
“When coronavirus first emerged, we saw patient numbers drop dramatically as people stayed away because of fear of the virus, or because they didn’t want to burden the NHS, despite experiencing cancer symptoms – but it’s vital people continue to come forward.
“The NHS continued cancer care throughout the pandemic and that remains the same. So, if you have a sign or symptom, such as a persistent cough that is not COVID, or prolonged discomfort in the abdomen, please come forward – we are open and ready to see and treat you. Coming forward and getting checked out could save your life.”
Jon Hayes, Managing Director of Cheshire & Merseyside Cancer Alliance, said:
“In Cheshire and Merseyside alone, over 140,000 patients have been checked for cancer in the last year after seeing their GP, in addition to the many thousands of people who have been checked through the breast, bowel and cervical cancer screening programmes. Nearly 16,000 Cheshire and Merseyside patients had a cancer detected as a result and went on to have potentially life-saving treatment.
“We are making important new investments in equipment and staff to help us diagnose and treat cancer as early as possible and save more lives. I would encourage anybody who is concerned about symptoms to speak to their GP as soon as possible, and always attend screening appointments when invited.”
Last year, the NHS announced £20 million investment to speed up cancer diagnosis so that thousands more people can get potentially life-saving cancer checks. The NHS Long Term Plan committed to catching three quarters of cancers early, when they are easier to treat, up from half at present.