During lockdown, many people have decided not to see a doctor to get symptoms that they were concerned about.
Leading healthcare professionals fear that this will cause people to miss a vital early cancer diagnosis.
Charity Breast Cancer Now has warned that nearly 11,000 people in the UK could be living with undiagnosed breast cancer, and those numbers are likely to increase when you include other common cancers such as prostate, lung and skin cancers.
There are over 200 different types of cancer and each is treated in its own specific way.
If you are concerned about any unusual or unexplained symptoms, it is recommended that you see your doctor.
Here experts to explain a handful of signs you can spot and talk to your doctor about.
Unexplained weight loss
“Weight loss is not linked to any specific cancer type, but it could be a sign that something is wrong,” said Karis Betts, health information manager at Cancer Research UK.
“The weight loss will often be unexplained, so if you are eating normally and are not more active, but are losing weight, it is important to have this symptom examined.”
Blood in your stool
In most cases, blood in your stool is likely caused by hemorrhoids, ulcers, or infections, but it could also be a symptom of colon cancer. “Watch out for changes in your toilet habits,” adds Betts. “This could be how often you go to the toilet, whether your poop is softer or harder, and whether it is painful when you go to the toilet.”
Changes to your breasts
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK, with a woman diagnosed every 10 minutes.
Jane Murphy, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Breast Cancer Now says, “Most breast changes will not be cancer, but it is important to have any new or unusual breast changes checked by the doctor as soon as possible because the sooner breast cancer is diagnosed, the greater the risk of breast cancer. chance that the treatment will be successful.
“The most common signs and symptoms of breast cancer are a lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest, or armpit. In some cases, you will feel the lump but not see it. ”
Murphy says you should also look for a change in the skin, such as wrinkling or dimpling, a change in the color of the breast – the breast may look red or inflamed – or a change in the nipple. Watch for any unusual fluid coming out of one of the nipples, or any changes in the size or shape of the breast.
Lumps and skin changes
Persistent lumps or swelling in any part of your body should be taken seriously. Also keep an eye on your skin, as a new mole or a change in the appearance of an existing mole can be a sign of melanoma.
“It’s not just about lumps or moles, though,” says Betts. “We try to be very careful with skin cancer as many skin cancers can present differently, such as with lesions and sores, so it is important to watch for any changes in your skin. Certain cancers can also appear in more difficult-to-see areas, such as the soles of the feet or under the fingernails. ”
A cough that doesn’t budge
Colds, flu and coronavirus can cause you to cough, but if you have trouble coughing, it could be a possible symptom of lung cancer.
If you start to have a new cough, it is very important to get a coronavirus test so that you know whether to isolate at home or not. Betts says, “If your cough isn’t explained by a Covid test and it doesn’t go away, it’s very important to get it checked out.”