We all know that the earlier cancer is detected, the better the chance of survival. However, half of UK adults at risk of developing cancer symptoms have not contacted their GP within six months, new research has found.
A YouGov Cancer Research UK (CRUKcancerresearchuk.org) poll of 2,468 people found that only 48% had red flag symptoms, such as unexplained weight loss and new or unusual lumps, within six months, and they Contacted their GP.
Dr Julie Sharp, head of health and patient engagement at CRUK, said: “You might think red flags like coughing up blood or unexplained bleeding are hard to ignore, but this study shows that many people are.”
Noting that people from poor backgrounds in particular face more barriers to seeking help, she stressed: “Whether this is a red flag or not, if you notice an unusual change in your health or it doesn’t go away, get in touch as soon as possible. Your GP. Your doctor is there for you and wants to know about any concerns you have.”
Not telling your doctor about unusual health changes may lower the chances of an early cancer diagnosis. When diagnosed at stage 1 (the earliest stage), more than nine in 10 (92%) people will survive bowel cancer for five years or more. This is one in 10 (10%) when stage 4 (the latest stage) is diagnosed.
Anyone with any of the following symptoms should see a doctor right away, Sharp said. She stressed that in most cases it won’t be cancer, but if it is, catching it early can make a real difference and potentially save your life.
1. Unexplained pain
Pain is a sign that something is wrong, and while it’s easy to hope that it will go away, it’s important to check for it if it persists. “As we age, it becomes more common to experience aches and pains,” Sharp said. “But unexplained pain could be a sign of something more serious.”
2. Profuse night sweats
Sharpe said night sweats can be caused by a number of reasons, including infections, certain medications or going through menopause. However, heavy night sweats can also be a sign of a variety of cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma.
3. Unexplained weight loss
Of course, there are many causes of unexplained weight loss beyond cancer, including gut and thyroid problems. But Sharpe says that while it’s normal to have little weight change over time, you should tell your doctor if you’re not trying to lose significant weight.
4. Unusual lumps or swelling
Lumps are one of the most well-known symptoms of cancer, and while they can be caused by many less serious problems, such as injuries, Sharp emphasizes persistent lumps or swelling in any part of the body, including the neck, armpits, stomach, groin, chest , breasts or testicles, should be taken seriously.
Of course, tiredness can be caused by many factors, including stress, autoimmune problems, or trouble sleeping. “But if you’re tired for no reason, that could be a sign that something is wrong,” Sharpe said.
6. Unexplained bleeding
Unexplained bleeding in stool, urine or vomit, coughing up blood or any unexplained vaginal bleeding during menstruation, after sex or after menopause should be checked by a doctor, Sharp said, explaining that blood may be red, brown or otherwise. Black. This bleeding is usually caused by something far less severe than cancer, she stressed, but you should always report it to your doctor.
7. Skin changes
These can include sores that don’t heal, new moles or moles that change in size, shape, or color, and crusting, itching, or bleeding. Check out the list of ABCDEs your doctor says to help you spot key changes. Additionally, Sharp says any unusual changes in the skin or nails should be checked by a doctor.
8. Digestive and dietary problems
Problems such as difficulty swallowing, unusual heartburn, or indigestion or loss of appetite can be red flags for cancer, though they can also be caused by many other causes, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD), stomach ulcers or simply eating spicy food, Sharp said. meals. But swallowing problems that don’t go away can be a sign of head and neck cancer, while unexplained persistent indigestion can be a sign of a variety of cancers, including pancreatic, stomach, and esophageal cancers.
Loss of appetite is also a sign of many different cancers, says Sharpe: “Loss of appetite can have many different causes—if you find that you’re not as hungry as you used to be and it’s not getting better, tell your doctor.”
9. Hoarseness, cough, or difficulty breathing
Hoarseness is common if you have a cold, but the NHS says if you have hoarseness for more than three weeks, you should see your doctor as it could be a sign of throat cancer. Likewise, if you have an unexplained cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse after a few weeks, it could be a sign of lung cancer, and if you’re more breathless than usual, tell your doctor — although it may just be, Sharp says Related to infection or other heart or lung problems, which can be a sign of cancer.
If your bowel habits change, including constipation, loose stools or more frequent bowel movements, urination problems, such as needing to have more frequent or urgent bowel movements, pain when you have a bowel movement, or inability to have a bowel movement when you need it, or if your bowel movement is painful, Sharp said. If you have blood in your pee or stool, you should see your doctor. While these symptoms can be a sign of bowel or bladder cancer, they can easily become less serious. “These symptoms can all be caused by something other than cancer, but it’s best to get checked out,” Sharpe said.
11. Persistent mouth ulcers
While mouth sores are common, especially when you’re exhausted, they usually get better in about two weeks. But sores or red or white patches that haven’t healed after three weeks should be reported to your doctor or dentist, Sharp said.
12. Unusual breast changes
It’s not just a lump that could be a symptom of breast cancer — watch for any changes in breast size, shape, or feel, or any skin changes, redness, or pain in your breasts. Fluid leaking from the nipple — possibly blood — could also be a sign of cancer, Sharp said.
13. Persistent bloating
Bloating is another very common and usually not serious symptom. However, while Sharp says bloated or swollen belly is common, talk to your doctor if you experience swelling most days, even if it’s intermittent. Bloating can be a sign of several cancers, especially ovarian cancer.