Tummy Trouble? Be Clear On Cancer
Around 288,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in England each year. It mainly affects older people, with around 9 in 10 cases diagnosed in the over-50s.
But the good news is, you’re much more likely to survive cancer if it’s found at an early stage. And you’re twice as likely to survive cancer as you were 40 years ago.
There are a number of possible warning signs of cancer. For example, many people know that a lump in the breast could be a symptom of cancer. But there are other warning signs too, including tummy troubles. Persistent tummy troubles that can be possible signs of cancer include:
- Being bloated most days
- Discomfort in the tummy area
- Nausea/feeling sick
- Blood in your poo
If you have any of these for three weeks or more, tell your doctor. If you notice any other unusual changes, such as a lump in the tummy area, post-menopausal bleeding or unexplained weight loss, again, your doctor will want to know. These can also be signs of cancer.
The chances are it’s nothing serious, but any of these things could be a sign of something that needs treatment. If it is cancer, finding it early makes it more treatable.
You’re not wasting anyone’s time by getting symptoms checked out, so don’t try to diagnose yourself or put your symptoms down to getting older. It’s probably nothing to worry about, but if it is cancer, the earlier it’s diagnosed the better – when cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, treatment is more likely to be successful. Seeing your doctor promptly could save your life.
When you book an appointment, the receptionist might ask you why you want to see the doctor. This is to help make sure you see the right person for the symptoms you have. You don’t have to tell them about your symptoms if you don’t want to, but you could say that you’ve seen this leaflet and that you have a symptom that could be a sign of cancer.
Your doctor will ask you some questions, such as how long have you had your symptoms and have they changed over time. It may help to write down your symptoms before you go, so that you don’t forget anything on your visit.
If you’ve been to the doctor but your symptoms haven’t gone away, or they’ve changed or got worse, he or she will want to know. It’s important to see your doctor again if your symptoms persist.
If you know anyone who has any of these symptoms, encourage them to see their doctor.
You can find your doctor’s contact details online at nhs.uk/findgp
More than 4 in 10 cases could be prevented through things such as:
Smoking increases the risk of many cancers. If you smoke, the best thing you can do for your health is to quit. There’s plenty of support and help available from the NHS. Visit nhs.uk/smokefree or call 0300 123 1044.
Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of many cancers. Try to maintain a healthy weight and keep active. Swimming, cycling, dancing, walking, gardening – the more you can do, the better. Try to eat a healthy, balanced diet too, with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Drinking alcohol is known to increase your risk of some cancers. The more you drink on a regular basis, the greater your risk. By cutting down on alcohol you’ll reduce the risks to your health.
For more information on how to reduce your risk of cancer, visit nhs.uk/reduce-your-risk