Cancer is a horrific disease that has been behind millions of deaths around the world. These are certain signs of the killer ailment that you cannot joke with.
File photo: A cancer patient
Cancer symptoms vary greatly, but here we reveal 10 common signs you should be wary of.
When it comes to treating cancer, getting diagnosed early really can mean the difference between life and death.
However a patient survey revealed that more than half of Brits ignore “red-flag” symptoms because they are worried about wasting their doctor’s time.
Cancer is a disease of the cells. Sometimes cells go wrong and become abnormal and these cancer cells keep dividing to make more abnormal cells.
In 2012, an estimated 14.1 million new cases of cancer occurred worldwide. The four most common cancers globally are lung, female breast, bowel and prostate cancer.
These four account for around four in 10 of all cancers diagnosed worldwide.
And it’s now predicted that one in two people will get cancer at some point in their lives. Luckily advances are happening all the time and around 50% of people now survive cancer for more than 10 years, according to Cancer Research UK.
However, cancer is still a huge threat globally and it’s important to know the symptoms to look out for.
Here we reveal 10 early warning signs that could be cancer:
1. Unexplained weight loss
If you’ve been dieting or increased your exercise levels then you will naturally lose weight, but if you haven’t made any changes to your lifestyle and the weight continues to drop off this could be a warning sign of something more serious.
If you’ve been exercising yourself it’s normal to get out of breath, but if you notice yourself feeling more breathless than normal it’s best to consult your doctor.
3. A persistent cough or hoarseness
Coughs are mostly common and harmless, but if it continues for more than three weeks or gets worse, see your GP.
4. Diarrhea or constipation
This could be caused by food poisoning or a stomach bug, but if you experience problems for 4-6 weeks or more, then tell your doctor.
5. Unusual moles
Moles with an irregular shape or jagged edges should be checked by a GP.
6. Blood in your urine or faeces
The most common cause of blood in your poo is haemorrhoids, but it could also be a sign of cancer. Blood in your urine could also be a symptom.
7. Unexplained vaginal bleeding
Bleeding between periods is a fairly common side effect of the contraceptive pill. But bleeding from the vagina between periods, after sex or post-menopause should be checked out by your doctor.
8. Unusual lump or swelling anywhere
Make sure you look out for unusual lump or swelling on the body. The best way to check for lumps in the breasts or testicles is to feel them in the shower.
Dr Dawn Harper’s TLC guide will give you advice on exactly how to self-check your boobs.
- Touch your breasts. Can you feel anything unusual?
- Look for changes. Is there any change in shape or texture?
- Check anything unusual with your doctor.
To check for testicular cancer:
- Hold your penis out of the way and check one testicle at a time.
- Hold the testicle between your thumbs and fingers of both hands and roll it gently between your fingers.
- Look and feel for any hard lumps or smooth rounded bumps or any change in the size, shape, or consistency of the testicles.
9. Sore that does not heal
An open wound that never heals is another possible sign of cancer.
10. Heavy night sweats
Night sweats can be caused by temperature change or hormonal changes, but they can also be a sign of cancer.
They can be an early symptom of cancers including leukaemia, bone caner and liver cancer.
According to the survey of more than 1,700 people over the age of 50, more than 50% of people in the UK had experienced at least one of these symptoms, but only 2% thought cancer could be the cause.
The study, by Cancer Research, found that the majority of people were worried that there GP would think their complaint was trivial.
Others said they were too scared of a cancer diagnosis to seek help and some believed in maintaining a “stiff upper lip”.
And worryingly a large proportion of Brits hadn’t gone to see a medical professional because they lacked confidence in the health system.
But catching cancer early can literally be the difference between life and death so if you’re worried, see you GP immediately.