More than a quarter of a million people are diagnosed with cancer in the UK each year. The earlier a cancer is found, the more likely it is that treatment will be successful. Knowing what changes to look for and when to see your GP could make a real difference.
[It is worth remembering that symptoms are more commonly caused by conditions other than cancer, but it’s important to discuss any concerns you have with your GP.]
If you know your body and what is normal for you, it will help you to be aware of any changes.
Sometimes people, particularly as they get older, think a change in their body isn’t worth bothering their doctor about. But, if you notice a change in how you feel or how your body works and you’re not sure why it’s happened it’s better to be safe and get it checked out.
The European Code Against Cancer recommends that you should go to see your doctor if you have:
- a lump anywhere on your body
- a sore or ulcer that doesn’t heal within a few weeks
- a mole that changes shape, size or colour or bleeds
- a cough or hoarseness that lasts for more than three weeks
- shortness of breath
- loss of appetite, ongoing indigestion or difficulty swallowing
- a change in bowel habit that lasts for more than two weeks
- blood in urine, bowel motions, spit or vomit or abnormal bleeding from your vagina
- unexplained weight loss or tiredness
- unexplained ache or pain that last for more than four weeks
Most of the time these changes aren’t due to cancer but, if you do develop cancer, finding it early can make a big difference, so get them checked out. It’s important to see your GP if you have an unexplained or ongoing change in your body.