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One In 10 Deliberately Put Off Cancer Screenings

Mammography Technologist Doctor adjusts Mammogram Machine for a Female Patient

Over one in 10 Brits have chosen to miss or delay a cancer screening, according to a new study by Bupa Health Clinics

The top reasons why they’d miss or delay a screening include embarrassment (23%), past bad experiences (21%), fear of the outcome (20%) anxiety (20%) and it not fitting with their working hours (19%).

Dr Naveen Puri, Associate Clinical Director at Bupa Health Clinics said: “Cancer screenings can be life-saving, which is why it’s essential that you’re attending your appointment or seeing a doctor if you have any symptoms you’re concerned about. 

“An earlier screening can lead to an abnormality being picked up sooner, which then leads to faster access to treatment that is more likely to be non-invasive.

On the other hand, putting off a screening can lead to the outcome being worse and potentially needing more treatment. So very simply, the sooner the screening the better the outcome. 

“As doctors we understand that people have concerns about a screening and it’s our job to help put people at ease. 

“For example, in our health clinics, we know that people may be anxious about an appointment, which is why we introduced longer sessions, giving customers more time to overcome their initial barriers and open up about symptoms they may be experiencing.”

The study also found that over a quarter of all Brits (26%) admit to having ignored a health concern, with 16-34 year olds being the highest group putting off appointments.

And whilst the pandemic has put a renewed focus on health and wellbeing, over a quarter of Brits say they’re still less likely to see a doctor because of the pandemic.

Dr Naveen Puri, Associate Clinical Director for Bupa Health Clinics said: “The vast majority of health concerns can be treated easily so there’s no need to worry or suffer in silence by putting off seeing your doctor and enduring days or weeks of discomfort. 

“The pandemic may have made us more aware of our health and wellbeing, but it also seems to have put people off seeking help when they need it. There’s no need to be embarrassed or feel anxious about an appointment, as doctors, we’ve seen it all before. 

“It’s vital that we see a healthcare professional when we’re unwell. Early diagnosis ultimately saves lives.”

Concerns about being able to take time off work also make people postpone appointments, with 16% saying they have had to take health appointments off as holiday or unpaid leave, with 15% having time off denied even though it was for a health check-up or screening.

Only three in 10 say their employer encourages them to look after their health and just under a quarter don’t feel their employer encourages attending regular appointments.

Dr Puri said: “For businesses, looking after employee health is essential. If employees are unable to attend health appointments or regular screenings then health concerns are left for longer, which can result in long-term absence for more complex treatment.

“Not only is it the right thing to do, but businesses who support employee health and wellbeing, reap the benefits of having a healthy, productive and engaged workforce.”