Having stomach troubles for three weeks or more could be a sign or cancer according to health experts.
Public Health England has launched a new Be Clear on Cancer campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of cancer across the Midlands.
In the East Midlands 25,329 people are diagnosed with cancer each year and 11,738 die of the disease.
The campaign, which is being supported by celebrities Nick Hewer, Frank Skinner, Emile Heskey, Julia Bradbury and Nitin Ganatra, encourages people suffering from symptoms such as persistent diarrhoea, bloating or discomfort in the stomach area to see their doctor. These can be signs of a number of cancers, including bowel, ovarian or pancreatic.
Around nine in ten cases of cancer are diagnosed in people aged 50 or over and the earlier it is diagnosed, the greater the chances of survival. For example, 98 per cent of those diagnosed with early stage bowel cancer will live for at least one year. At a late stage, this drops to 42 per cent.
However, a recent survey shows only one in six over 50s in the Midlands would see their GP if they felt bloated for more than three weeks and only one in four would go to the GP if they had experienced discomfort in the stomach area for over three weeks.
The survey also shows many Midlands residents in this age group do not think persistent stomach troubles are serious enough symptoms to seek advice from their GP.
Ben Anderson, deputy director for Healthcare Public Health at Public Health England East Midlands, said: “Cancer survival rates are improving, patients are twice as likely to survive a cancer diagnosis than they were 40 years ago. We know finding cancer early saves lives, but there is still more to do to make people aware of the early warning signs and to act on them.
“Many people are unaware that symptoms like a persistent sore tummy or bloating can be signs of abdominal cancers, and are hesitant to see their GP if they have them – for example, a third of people don’t know that ongoing discomfort in the tummy area could be a sign, and around the same number say they think those symptoms are not serious enough to visit a doctor.”
Countdown presenter and Midlands resident Nick Hewer said: “Knowing that persistent tummy troubles can be a sign of cancer and that you should see your GP if you have them is important.”
For more information see nhs.uk/tummytroubles.