BBC News

'Stiff upper lip' delaying cancer diagnoses

Reservations by patients to visit their doctor may prevent early presentation for cancer symptoms, according to new research. More people in the UK confess to being "embarrassed to go to the doctor" and "worried about wasting the doctor's time" compared to other countries in the study.

Asked what stops the British public visiting their doctor, the study's lead researcher Dr Lindsay Forbes told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We speculate that the British stiff upper lip may be a factor".

"It's something that needs to be tackled. We need to support people to have the confidence to go and see their doctors promptly with a symptom," she added.

Mark Flanagan, chief executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, also believes "people are still reluctant to talk". He told the programme that his organisation's nurse helpline are experiencing a surge in anonymous contact: "We now get more emails than phone calls".

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on 30th January 2013.