MORE than half of people with cancer symptoms wait longer than six months to contact their GP, research reveals.

Survival chances are much higher if the disease is caught early.

Experts warn timely pick up of the disease is key in boosting outcomes

But a poll for Cancer Research UK found only 48 per cent of Brits went to their family medic within half a year of experiencing “red flag” symptoms.

These include coughing up blood, unexplained weight loss and a new or unusual lump.

Researchers also found poorer Brits were less likely to seek help early, and return to their GP if the problem didn’t go away.

Cancer Research UK’s chief executive Michelle Mitchell said:  “Spotting cancer early is vital if more people are to survive, and the first step in that process is getting help for a possible cancer symptom.

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“It’s really worrying to see such a large gap in accessing services between the UK’s most and least deprived groups.

“Cancer must remain a top priority and with the upcoming Health Disparities White Paper and 10 Year Plan for England, the new Health and Social Care Secretary has a huge opportunity to transform cancer survival with a clear and strong plan that works for all.”

Experts warn timely pick up of the cancer is key in boosting outcomes.

Around nine in ten bowel cancer patients will recover if it is picked up at the earliest stage.

Some more general cancer symptoms include: unexplained pains or aches and weight loss, very heavy night sweats and fatigue.

But this falls to just one in ten with delayed diagnosis.

Ministers have pledged that three in four of all cases will be spotted early by 2028. Currently, only half are identified at stage one or two.

But NHS cancer clinics are struggling to keep up with record referrals as medics desperately try to clear the Covid backlog.

In July, more than 10,000 people were waiting longer than three months to see a hospital doctor about a cancer scare.

The number facing long waits with suspected tumours has doubled from 5,000 in June 2021.

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National Cancer Director Dame Cally Palmer said: “We recognise that it is not easy talking about cancer but a conversation with your GP could save a life – early diagnosis of cancer is vital to give people the best possible treatment and it dramatically boosts chances of survival.

“We are seeing record cancer checks as public awareness of cancer grows and the NHS is continuing to run ‘Help Us Help You’ campaigns, to encourage people to come forward if they are worried about any signs or symptoms.”

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