Cancer symptoms: Top 14 early signs to look out for

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With any illness, the earlier you spot the signs of cancer the earlier you can seek treatment. For this reason being aware of the symptoms could be life-saving. However, an expert has warned that some indicators of the disease could be mistaken for less concerning ailments.

Doctor Jiri Kubes, medical director of the Proton Therapy Centre in Prague, spoke with to explain more.

He revealed that some of the early warning signs of cancer could be mistaken for a hangover or winter bug.

“A cancer diagnosis can have a major impact on the lives of not only the patient, but their family and friends too,” he said.

“The disease can affect people of all ages and backgrounds, so it’s vital to be aware of any sudden changes in your body that might suggest something isn’t right.

“Some of the early symptoms can even be mistaken for minor ailments such as a hangover or a winter bug.”

Symptoms to look for

Dr Kubes listed the signs to be wary of.

He said: “An excessively dry mouth is sometimes a sign of head and neck cancer, while nausea and vomiting can be associated with brain tumours or bowel obstructions.

“Meanwhile, symptoms of dehydration, which is often caused by excessive alcohol, can also be associated with certain cancers.

“An inability to empty the bladder fully, can be a symptom of prostate cancer in men.”

Other symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • Needing to urinate more frequently, often during the night
  • Difficulty in starting to urinate
  • Straining or taking a long time while urinating
  • Weak flow
  • Blood in urine or blood in semen.

He added: “Finally, excessive fatigue can occur with certain cancers as the tumour uses the body’s nutrients to grow, rather than allow them to replenish your body.”

What should I do if I experience these symptoms?

If the symptoms last longer than a week it is worth getting them checked.

“It’s important not to panic if you notice any of these symptoms as it does not necessarily mean you may have cancer, but it’s also important not to ignore anything that seems strange,” Dr Kubes said.

“If any of these symptoms persist for a week or more, you may want to consider talking to your GP.”

According to the NHS, general signs of cancer can include:

  • Coughing, chest pain and breathlessness
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Bloating
  • Bleeding
  • Lumps
  • Moles
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Tummy or back pain
  • Itchy or yellow skin
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Feeling unwell or tired.

The health service 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.

“Finding cancer early means it’s easier to treat.

“If your GP suspects cancer, they’ll refer you to a specialist – usually within two weeks.”

You are at higher risk of cancer if:

  • You have been diagnosed with a condition that means you’re at higher risk of getting cancer
  • Two or more of your close relatives have had cancer.

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