PUBLISHED: 05:30 02 September 2019 | UPDATED: 09:27 02 September 2019
A Suffolk man who survives bowel cancer says a quick diagnosis is vital in fighting the disease – as new figures reveal almost half of cancer patients in the east of England are diagnosed with a late stage.
Gareth Grayston, from Ipswich, said he received a late cancer diagnosis after doctors mistook his symptoms for stress and lack of vitamins and backs of the charity's call for more staff.
He said: "I can understand doctors don't have a lot of time and the stresses they are under.
" There is a need for more investment in staff – it's a massive thing.
"Everyone knows about cancer and there is so much fundraising and research.
"From my point of view, I knew within myself I wasn't OK.
" That's one thing I would say if you don ' t feel right in yourself, keep going back. "
The charity say diagnostic staff are under immense pressure because of vacant posts across the country, with one in ten posts left empty in England.
Patrick Keely, Cancer Research UK's spokesman for the east of england, said: "NHS staff are working tirelessly to offer the best care possible, and the NHS is implementing important new initiatives to address late diagnosis and improve staff efficiency. But there just aren't enough right staff available on the ground now, and there are no plans to significantly increase the numbers needed to transform the health service. "
Charity's head of policy Emma Greenwood added:" It's unacceptable that many people are diagnosed late. "More survival is improved, it's not happening fast enough." More referrals to the hospital means we urgently need more staff. "
In a joint statement from the East Suffolk and North East Essex NHS Foundation Trust, West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups, and spokesman said more people than ever before had cancer in Suffolk.
He said: "This is achieved by making sure cancers are diagnosed promptly , services are compliant with national guidance and that care is delivered at the right place at the right time.
"West Suffolk has one of the best cancer survival rates in the country and east Suffolk continues to see improvements in those survival rates. Organizations across the system – including GPs, hospitals and Public Health Suffolk – work together, despite workforce pressures , and all share the same commitment to achieving as many people as possible to survive cancer.
"A positive outcome is best achieved for the patient if they get the cancer diagnosis early on and we continue to work hard to raise awareness of cancer symptoms .
"People should always seek advice from their GP if they have any concerns."
For more information and to sign the Cancer Research UK petition, see here