Cancer symptoms: Top 14 early signs to look out for
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It requires olympic-level acrobatics to put a positive spin on current cancer survival rates in the UK. A recent report conducted by the Health and Social Care Committee of MPs warned cancer survival rates could go into “reverse” as people die prematurely due to the pandemic-induced backlog and a collective reluctance to come forward. The dire forecast underscores the importance of acting on the early warnings of cancer.
It doesn’t help that cancer symptoms are often vague and falsely attributed to everyday aches and pains.
However, there are some ways to distinguish cancer-related pain from the everyday type.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), pain often emerges in different areas of the body when you are engaged in specific actions.
For example, pain when urinating or pain after eating can signal the potentially deadly disease, the NIH warns.
In regards to the latter, this pain is usually characterised as “heartburn or indigestion that doesn’t go away”, says the health body.
Belly or mouth pain can also indicate cancer, it adds.
General signs of cancer include:
- Very heavy night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unusual lump or swelling anywhere
How to respond
According to the NHS, if something doesn’t look or feel quite right, or if you think you might have cancer, don’t ignore it – speak to your doctor.
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Generally, the health body says symptoms that persist for three weeks or more are a red flag that should be checked out.
“Although it’s unlikely to be cancer, it’s important to speak to a GP so they can investigate.”
It adds: “If your GP suspects cancer, they’ll refer you to a specialist – usually within two weeks.”
To contact your GP surgery:
- Visit their website
- Use the NHS App
- Call them.
Are you at risk?
Everyone has a certain risk of developing cancer. A combination of genes, lifestyle and environment can affect this risk.
Doctors do not know the exact causes of cancer. But there are risk factors that can increase your chance of developing it.
Having one or more risk factors does not mean you will get cancer. Also, having no risk factors does not mean you will not develop cancer.
According to Macmillan Cancer Support, around one in three cases of the most common cancers (about 33 percent) could be prevented by eating a healthy diet, keeping to a healthy weight and being more active.
It must be noted you cannot reduce your risk completely through your lifestyle.
“For most people, increasing age is the biggest risk factor for developing cancer,” Macmillan Cancer Support.
“In general, people over 65 have the greatest risk of developing cancer. People under 50 have a much lower risk.”
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