ALMOST 2,000 cases of cancer are not discovered until they have progressed to the most deadly stage of illness in Southampton and wider Hampshire.

Cancer Research UK said there are concerns that survival rates could "go backwards" as a result of the coronavirus pandemic's impact upon the NHS.

At least 1,923 cases diagnosed by medics in the NHS Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight CCG area had reached an advanced stage in 2019.

There were 10,543 cancers diagnosed in Hampshire, Southampton and the Isle of Wight in the same year and stage four diagnoses, which carry the greatest mortality risk, represented 24% of those.

However, that was down from the 25% recorded the year before.

Maggie’s Southampton Centre offers support to those who have been diagnosed.

Head of the centre, Gilly Howard-Jones, said: “Being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer brings with it its own set of emotional and psychological challenges.

“It is well understood that early diagnosis is always best so of course I would encourage anyone with any concerns to speak to their GP as soon as possible, but at Maggie’s we are here for anyone at any point, including before, during and after treatment, no matter the diagnosis.

“When people come to us with a stage 4 diagnosis, they are often full of fear and anxiety – worried about their own futures, what awaits them in terms of symptoms and treatment and, always a big worry, money. They are also incredibly anxious about their family and friends.

“We can help in so many ways by talking through their emotions, arranging a session with our psychologist, if necessary, discuss treatment options, help with money and even support people to find acceptance if that’s what they need. We can also help when it comes to speaking to family and friends – who are of course also welcome in our centre.

“To give people the best possible chance through treatment we also have lots of advice and information on eating well, gentle exercise, sleeping well and stress management.

“We also recently held our first "living with cancer " group and I was really struck by the power of bringing people together living with advanced disease.

“We might not be able to change outcomes, but what we do is help people to live well with cancer no matter what the stage.”

Figures for CCGs across England show some cancers are far more likely to be diagnosed late than others, with those affecting the pancreas, lungs and oesophagus among those the most likely to be detected at an advanced stage – often because they do not cause symptoms until a later stage.

In the area covered by the NHS Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight CCG, 43% of the 1,187 lung cancers detected in 2019 were at stage four when found, as were 65% of 328 pancreatic cancers and 43% of 275 oesophageal cases.