We are often told that catching cancer in its early stages can greatly increase the chances of recovery and even survival.
Despite this, new research has found that half of adults with possible symptoms of the disease do not contact their GP within the first six months of illness, The sun reported.
A YouGov survey of 2,468 people found that only 48% of those who experienced a ‘red flag’ symptom, such as unexplained weight loss and a new or unusual mass, contacted their doctor within six months.
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said early detection of cancer was “vital” if more people were to survive.
“The first step in this process is to get help for a possible symptom of cancer,” she explained.
But what are the red flag symptoms you should be wary of?
1. Unexplained pain
It is normal to experience more pain as you age.
However, unexplained pain can be a sign that something more serious might be happening.
2. Heavy night sweats
Overheating and night sweats can be caused by infections or be a side effect of certain medications.
It is also often experienced by women at the time of menopause.
But very heavy and profuse night sweats can also be a sign of leukemia-related cancers.
3. Unexplained weight loss
Small changes in weight over time are completely normal, but if you lose a noticeable amount of weight without trying, it’s worth talking to your doctor.
According to the American Cancer Society, unexplained weight loss is often the first noticeable symptom of esophageal, pancreatic, stomach, and lung cancers.
4. Unusual lump or swelling
Persistent lumps or swellings on any part of the body should always be checked out by a medical expert.
This includes any mass in the neck, armpits, stomach, groin, chest, chest, or testicles.
Feeling tired is quite normal and can be caused by stress, not eating enough, or simply not getting enough sleep.
However, if you feel tired for no clear reason, it could be a sign that something is wrong – talk to your doctor.
Fatigue can be a symptom of blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.
This is because these cancers start in the bone marrow, which produces red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body.
6. Skin changes
When a spot, wart, or sore won’t heal, even if it’s painless, a doctor should check it out.
Likewise, you should also be aware of any new or existing moles that change size, shape, or color, become crusty, itchy, hurt, bleed, or ooze.
Any unusual change in a patch of skin or nail, whether it’s a new change or has been present for a while, should be checked out by your doctor.
7. Difficulty swallowing
It’s worth seeing your doctor if you have difficulty swallowing and it’s not related to another condition you already have.
Difficulty swallowing can be a symptom of esophageal cancer.
8. Digestive problems
These include painful heartburn, persistent loss of appetite, or bloating (even if it comes and goes, talk to your doctor).
Digestive problems can be an early symptom of gastric cancer.
9. Hoarse voice, persistent cough or shortness of breath
Having a hoarse voice that hasn’t dissipated on its own should be checked out.
As it should be, an unexplained cough does not go away in a few weeks.
It’s not uncommon to feel short of breath from time to time. But if you notice that you feel short of breath more than usual or for much of the time, talk to your doctor.
If you have a hoarse voice for more than 3 weeks, it could be a sign of laryngeal cancer, according to the NHS website.
10. Changes in your poo or pee
A change in bowel habits can include constipation, looser pooping or pooping more often can also be a sign of something more serious.
Problems with urinating can be needing to go more often or urgently, feeling pain while urinating, or not being able to go when you need to.
11. Unexplained bleeding or blood
Unexplained bleeding can often be caused by something much less serious than cancer, but you should always report it to your doctor.
This includes blood in your poo or pee, and vomiting or coughing up blood – no matter how much or what color (it can be red or a darker color like brown or black).
This also includes any unexplained vaginal bleeding between periods, after sex, or after menopause.
12. Mouth ulcer or patch that does not heal
It’s common to get ulcers (small sores) in your mouth when you’re a little tired. These usually get better in about two weeks.
But an ulcer or a red or white spot that does not heal after 3 weeks should be reported to your doctor or dentist.
13. Unusual breast changes
Lumps, changes in the size, shape, or feel of a breast, or any skin changes, redness, or pain in the breast are all worth looking into.
Nipple changes, including fluids that may be stained with blood, leaking from the nipple if you are not pregnant or breastfeeding, are also worth watching.
It’s not always easy to talk about cancer, but a conversation with your GP could very well save your life.
If you have any of these “red flag” symptoms, it is very important that you see your family doctor.
This story was originally posted by The sun and has been reproduced with permission
Originally published as 13 Red Flag Cancer Symptoms