In a new study by Cancer Research UK, almost half the participants did not see their GP despite suffering cancer “alarm” warning signs. Dr Katrina Whitaker, a senior research fellow at University College London during the study, said: “Many of the people we interviewed had red flag symptoms but felt that these were trivial and didn’t need medical attention, particularly if they were painless or intermittent.”Associate Professor Sandro Porceddu, a radiation oncologist and clinical advisor to Cancer Council Australia, says this is one possible reason people ignore symptoms.
“People don’t generally attribute symptoms to cancer,” he says.
“The message, from an oncology perspective, is that we don’t wish people to present as soon as a symptom appears,” he advises, “but people should make themselves aware of what the symptoms are and if it doesn’t resolve quickly, they should seek advice from a health practitioner.”
Here are the 10 “red flag” symptoms to see your doctor about, if they persist:
1. Persistent cough or hoarseness – could indicate lung cancer
2. A change in the appearance of a mole – could mean you’re suffering skin cancer
3. A persistent change in bowel habits – could be a sign of bowel cancer
4. A sore that does not heal – depends on where, a mouth ulcer could mean mouth cancer
5. Persistent difficulty swallowing – can mean a person is suffering oesophageal cancer
6. Unexplained weight loss – can indicate several types of cancer
7. Persistent change in bladder habits – could be a sign of bladder cancer and prostate cancer in men
8. An unexplained lump – can be a warning sign of many forms of the disease
9. Persistent unexplained pain – depending on where, can denote.