A large number of people have a habit of ignoring potentially serious symptoms. This may have dire consequences for the individuals concerned as delays in diagnosing cancer can lead to disastrous outcomes in terms of treatment and potential cure. There is no doubt that the earlier cancer is diagnosed, the best outcomes are achieved. Often these individuals are intelligent and well-informed so why would they choose to ignore their symptoms?

This delay may be for a multitude of reasons;

  • Too busy at work and home to make an appointment to see their GP
  • Fear (of investigations, diagnosis and treatment)
  • ‘Head in the sand’ (men are often the worst!)
  • Social and ethnic reasons
  • The ‘I’m too young to have anything wrong’ philosophy

Below are 13 symptoms to never ignore as they may potentially indicate serious underlying disease in particular, cancer;

  1. Abnormal new moles or changing old ones (expanding with irregular edges, odd pigmentation and which may bleed easily and itch) – potential melanoma
  2. Unexplained weight loss or off food – might indicate any underlying cancer
  3. Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) – could be as a result of an oesophageal (gullet) cancer
  4. Vomiting blood or bleeding either bright red or dark red blood from the back passage (haematemesis, melaea or PR bleeding) – could indicate either stomach or bowel cancer
  5. Coughing up blood (haemoptysis) – could indicate lung cancer
  6. Passing blood in the urine (haematuria) may indicate cancer of the prostate (in men), bladder or even kidneys
  7. Hoarse voice – may indicate throat or lung cancer
  8. Yellow tinge to the skin (jaundice), which may also be associated with darkening of the urine and pale bowel motions – pancreatic or liver cancer
  9. New lumps and bumps in the groin armpit or neck (lymphadenopathy) – may indicate lymphoma
  10. Swelling with excess fluid in the abdomen (ascites) – may indicate intra-abdominal cancer or ovarian cancer
  11. Pale and tired (anaemia) – may indicate microscopic internal bleeding from a bowel or stomach cancer, or may suggest leukaemia
  12. Painful thigh in older children and teenagers (often attributed to growing pains)  – might suggest underlying bone cancer (Ewing’s sarcoma)
  13. Abnormal bleeding from the vagina, either inter-menstrual, or post menopausal – may indicate cancer of the cervix or uterusDont-ignore

If any of these symptoms occur then it is always best to seek medical advice. Of course the most likely outcome is that there is nothing much wrong, but better to be safe than sorry!

If anyone wishes to discuss any of these symptoms with a doctor then please click here


Dr Helen Webberley

Dr Helen Webberley is an NHS GP with a practice in South Wales, and an experienced online doctor providing healthcare advice and treatment via the Internet. She is a talkhealth expert in the Online Clinics. If anyone has any queries about their health then feel free to contact her.