IT’S easy to brush off niggling health problems as something that will go away with time. But doctors are frequently telling us, some symptoms should never be ignored because they could mean cancer.
The most commonly diagnosed forms of the disease are breast, cancer and lung. Often the signs of the killer disease are so vague that people diagnosed only recognise them in hindsight. They may also have been misdiagnosed by their doctor or by searching the internet.
Experts urge people to be familiar with their own bodies – such as checking their testicles or breasts often – so that any new symptom is more obvious. The NHS says: “It’s important to be aware of any new or worrying symptoms. “Although it’s unlikely to be cancer, it’s important to speak to a GP so they can investigate.”
There are over 200 different types of cancer, according to Cancer Research UK, and each has a different set of symptoms. While some may be specific to the type of cancer, there are a handful that are more general.
The charity says general cancer symptoms – those that may appear among all patients – are:
- Unexplained pain
- Very heavy night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
- An unusual lump or swelling
Dr Anne Marie Lennon, a Johns Hopkins gastroenterologist, revealed five key symptoms she would never ignore:
1. Shortness of breath
There are many causes of shortness of breath. Sometimes it’s because a person is unfit or has asthma, for example. But Dr Lennon says: “If you notice you’re getting out of breath with normal activities or walking stairs, however, that’s abnormal and should be evaluated.”
Shortness of breath is a key symptom of lung cancer, which also causes unexplained tiredness, weight loss and a persistent cough.