Cancer symptoms vary depending on the type of cancer, but a new study has revealed that a worrying number of people do not get embarrassing symptoms checked by their GPs. Alarmingly – according to the research by Bupa – over six million people in the UK have delayed having symptoms checked because they were too embarrassed.
In light of the findings, the health specialist is urging people to see a doctor right away if they experience symptoms linked with cancer – even if they are embarrassing.
Bupa found that one in five UK adults (equivalent to 6.6 million people) have experienced symptoms that could be signs of cancer, yet they delayed seeking medical help because they were too embarrassed. Moreover, 5.1 million UK adults have avoided going to their doctor altogether after experiencing embarrassing symptoms, running the risk of potentially going undiagnosed and untreated.
Vaginal bleeding was the most embarrassing symptom to discuss, the study found, followed by pain in the pelvis or groin. Blood or pain when urinating and bleeding from the bottom were the symptoms ranked in third and fourth place respectively.
Bupa said the findings are of huge concern because early diagnosis and treatment of cancer usually has a significant impact in improving the outcome of the disease. The fact that people are avoiding having symptoms checked – by more than two months, on average – because they are too embarrassed is extremely troubling.
When it comes to embarrassing symptoms, the average delay in seeking help for changes in bladder or bowel habits was almost 68 days, on average. People experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding would wait for 66 days before seeking advice, while those with a lump in the testicle would wait for 62 days.
Worrying That Checking Symptoms Online Is Common
Over half (54%) of respondents said they would delay speaking to a medical professional about an embarrassing symptom because they wouldn’t know how to start a conversation about it.
Just under a third (30%) of people said they checked embarrassing symptoms online instead of visiting their doctor.
One in five people said they have been so embarrassed by symptoms that they only sought the advice of a medical professional after being convinced to do so by their partner.
Speaking about the findings of the research, Julia Ross, head of Cancer Care at Bupa, said: “When you notice something’s not right with your body it can be daunting, whatever the symptoms.
“It’s important to remember that the role of medical professionals is to help you understand your body, providing you with peace of mind or signposting you to the most appropriate treatment and support for your condition.”
She finished by saying that early diagnosis and treatment can “help aid the recovery and long-term management of an illness.”
If you’ve got any embarrassing symptoms, please don’t delay in seeking advice from a medical professional. Remember, they have seen and heard it all before, so while your symptom may be new to you, there’s a strong chance it won’t be to them.
If it makes you feel more at ease, you can request to see a medical professional who is of the same gender.
I joined Premier Choice Group as an SME/Corporate Consultant in 2017 and look after the Healthcare & Protection needs of a nationwide portfolio. I began my career in Healthcare and Protection in 1985 with BUPA, before moving on to Royal & Sun Alliance. In 2002, I became an Intermediary and worked with Private Clients, SME’s and Corporate clients on a local, national and international basis.