More than one in 10 people in the UK have chosen to miss or delay a cancer screening, according to a study by Bupa Health Clinics.
The top reasons for missing or delaying a screening included embarrassment (23%), past bad experiences (21%), fear of the outcome (20%), anxiety (20%) and it not fitting with their working hours (19%).
Concerns about being taking time off work also make cause people postpone appointments, with 16% saying they have had to take health appointments off as holiday or unpaid leave, and 15% having time off denied even though it was for a health check-up or screening.
Just three in 10 report that their employer encourages them to look after their health and and under a quarter don’t feel their employer encourages attending regular appointments.
Opinion Matters quizzed 2,001 UK adults in July on behalf of Bupa Health Clinics and found a quarter of all Brits (26%) admitted to ignoring a health concern, with those aged 16 to 34 most likely to put off appointments.
Around one in four Brits also said they were still less likely to see a doctor due to the pandemic.
‘Early diagnosis saves lives’
Commenting on the findings, 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.
Dr Puri noted that doctors understand people have concerns about a screening and may be anxious about an appointment.
He added that most health concerns can be treated easily so there was no need for people to worry or suffer in silence by putting off seeing their 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,” he said.
“It’s vital that we see a healthcare professional when we’re unwell. Early diagnosis ultimately saves lives.
“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.”