Southwark doctors have urged locals to check themselves for signs of cancer ahead of World Cancer Day tomorrow.
According to clinical commissioning group figures, around 1,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year in Southwark, but only around half are detected at an early stage.
The chances of survival beyond five years are far higher if the disease is detected and treated early.
“The sad fact is that many lives could be saved if people visited their GP at the first sign of the disease,” said Dr Nancy Kuchemann, of Southwark’s Clinical Commissioning Group.
“Many seem to fear that they are wasting their GP’s time by seeing them when ‘it’s probably nothing’.
“We want to make clear that this isn’t the case – no GP visit is ever wasted when a symptom is present, even if it is ultimately harmless.”
Among unexplained changes to look out for, said Dr Kuchemann, are the sudden appearance of a lump, blood in your urine or a change to your usual bowel habits.
“We also strongly encourage lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce the risk of certain cancers,” she added.
“Around 27 per cent of cancer deaths come from tobacco and alcohol use, meaning stopping smoking and reducing your alcohol intake can make a big difference.”
World Cancer Day is celebrated on February 4 every year, and is marked internationally.