EXPERTS have unveiled the 10 serious warning signs that should not be ignored as they could mean you have cancer.
These ‘red flag’ symptoms are a clear guide for medical professionals all over the world and they’re ones you should be looking out for.
Currently 8.2 million people across the world die from the illness every year, 4.7 million men and 3.5 million women.
Early diagnosis of the disease can be crucial and help save lives, so these signals shouldn’t be dismissed or regarded as trivial.
A survey carried out on behalf of Cancer Research UK last year revealed almost half of those who seemed to have at least one red flag didn’t visit their GP.
If you or your loved ones are struggling with any of these 10 symptoms then experts advise you to visit your GP immediately.
1. A persistent cough
Red flag for… lung cancer
Although lung cancer doesn’t have many early signs and often the symptoms are only noticed after the disease has spread too far.
But for some these are the signals you should watch out for as they could be early stages of lung cancer.
A new cough that you can’t seem to shift or one that changes to a chronic cough sometimes called a smoker’s cough’ can be an indication.
Other symptoms include chest pain, deep breathing, lauging, hoarseness and coughing up blood.
2. A change in the appearance of a mole
Red flag for… skin cancer
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and it can appear anywhere
on the body but commonly shows on the back, legs, arms and face and
underneath a nail.
It can also spread to other organs of the body although, this is less common.
The disease takes the form of a new mole or a change in a current one, warning
signs to look out for existing ones are:
– getting bigger
– changing shape
– changing colour
– bleeding or becoming crusty
– itchy or painful
A quick and easy way of telling a normal mole a part from melanoma is the ‘ABCDE’ checklist:
Asymmetrical – melanomas have two very different halves and are an irregular shape.
Border – melanomas have a notched or ragged border.
Colours – melanomas will be a mix of two or more colours.
Diameter – melanomas are often larger than 6mm (1/4 inch) in diameter.
Enlargement or elevation – a mole that changes size over time is more likely
to be a melanoma.
3. A persistent chance in bowel habits
Red flag for… bowel cancer
The main symptoms for bowel cancer are blood in stools, a change in bowel habits, for example going more regularly, having looser faeces or abdominal pain.
The majority of people diagnosed with bowel cancer are over 60, so these symptoms are ones to look out for.
But be wary as could simply be caused by another, less deadly health issue.
4. A sore that doesn’t heal
Red flag for… mouth cancer and other types of cancer
According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, a sore or an ulcer that isn’t healing is the most common symptom of mouth cancer.
Also continuous pain in the mouth is another sign be aware of.
As a precautionary measure, Cancer Research UK recommends people to seek medical advice if a spot, wart or sore doesn’t heal after a few weeks, even if it’s painless.
5. A persistent difficulty swallowing
Red flag for… oesophageal cancer
While there are a number of health conditions that can make it difficult to swallow, if the issue doesn’t go away you should seek medical advice.
This is because difficulty swallowing and sudden weight loss are common signs of oesophageal cancer.
6. An unexplained lump
Red flag for… breast, testicular and many other types of cancer
Often signs of cancer can be felt through the skin, most commonly breast, testicle, lymph nodes and soft tissues in the body.
A thickening of tissue or a lump could be a warning sign of the disease but would suggest the disease is at an advanced stage.
It’s crucial you visit your doctor if you discover a lump or a red or thickened skin, particularly if they’ve grown in size.
7. Unexplained bleeding
Red flag for… many types of cancer, namely bowel, cervical or vulval cancer
Bleeding can occur in both the early and late stages of cancer, coughing up blood can be a sign of lung cancer, while blood in stool could mean colon or rectal.
Cervical or endometrium cancer can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding and blood in urine could be bladder, kidney or prostate cancer.
Also, discharge from the nipple could be a sign of breast cancer.
8. Unexplained weight loss
Red flag for… a number of cancers
According to the American Cancer Society, losing 10 pounds or more for no reason could be the first sign of cancer.
This commonly occurs with cancers of the pancreas, stomach, oesophagus (swallowing tube), or lung.
Cancer Research UK say that small weight losses over time are normal, but if you noticed a considerable change then you should inform your doctor.
9. A persistent change in bladder habits
Red flag for… bladder or prostate cancer
A need to urinate urgently, more frequently, being unable to go when you want to and experiencing pain or blood in urine are all issues you should tell your doctor.
Although there are other conditions which could cause these issues, combined with frequently needing to go at night, those symptoms could point to prostate cancer.
10. Persistent, unexplained pain
Red flag for… bone, testicular and many types of cancer
An unexplained pain can be present with most cancers, however more common with bone and testicular.
A constant headache could be a sign for a brain tumour, while back pain can indicate colon, rectum or ovary cancer.
In a number of cases where pain is experienced, it’s a sign that the cancer has spread from its original location.