Embarrassment prompting millions to delay checking cancer symptoms

Millions of people put off getting cancer symptoms checked for more than two months because they are embarrassed, according to research by Bupa.

Vaginal bleeding is viewed by UK adults as the ‘most embarrassing’ symptom to discuss with a doctor, followed by groin or pelvic pain, blood in urine and anal bleeding.

A survey of 2,004 people revealed that those suffering from unusual bladder or bowel changes put off getting medical advice for an average of 10 weeks – and men who had discovered a lump in their testicles waited for 62 days before getting medical advice.

Nearly half a million people, 480,000, have avoided going to the doctor with a cancer symptom altogether, according to Bupa’s research.

Two in five respondents (40%) said they would prefer to speak to someone over the phone about a symptom and 45% claimed to have looked up a symptom online rather than visit a GP.

Julia Ross, head of cancer care at Bupa UK, said: ‘Fast access to treatment can help aid recovery and the long-term management of an illness.

‘I’d always encourage people not to delay seeing a health professional if they are experiencing worrying symptoms even if you are concerned about embarrassment.’