Spot cancer early
One of the top tips for staying healthy is knowing what’s normal for your body and getting anything out of the ordinary checked by your doctor. It means that a cancer can be diagnosed, or ruled out, at a very early stage. If a symptom turns out to be a sign of cancer, the earlier you get it diagnosed, the better the chance of it being treated successfully.
To coincide with World Cancer day, the Irish Cancer Society is highlighting the early warning signs of cancer. These include:
- A lump or swelling
- Bleeding that is not normal for you
- Unexplained weight loss
- Pain that does not go away
- A cough, changes in your voice or feeling short of breath
- A sore that does not heal
- Difficulty swallowing, indigestion or heartburn
- Mouth or tongue ulcer
- A change in your bowel or bladder habits
- A new mole or change to an existing mole
- Any change in your breast
The Irish Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Manager Kevin O’Hagan advises that it’s important to know your body and what is normal for you.
“It means you can spot any changes that could be a sign of cancer and take action. Sometimes people put off seeing their doctor because they’re worried about what the doctor might find or they are afraid of wasting the doctor’s time. Chances are it won’t be cancer, but if it is, the sooner it is detected, the better your chance of survival.
“There are more than 200 different types of cancer, each with different symptoms. Many of the possible symptoms of cancer can also be caused by other, much less serious, things. The list doesn’t cover everything and that is why it’s so important to know what’s normal for you and see your doctor about any unexplained, persistent or unusual changes.”
There have been huge advances in the way cancer is diagnosed and treated which has led to real improvements in survival over the years. The good news is that the survival rate for all cancers in Ireland has increased from 45% in 1994-1999 to 60% in 2008-2011.
Survival rates for some of the common cancers have increased in that time:
- Breast: 74% to 85%
- Prostate: 66% – 92%
- Bowel: 51% – 59%
- Lung: 8% – 13%
If you notice any unexplained, persistent or unusual changes in how your body works, talk to your doctor or contact the National Cancer Helpline on Freefone 1800 200 700 and speak in confidence to a specialist cancer nurse. It could save your life.