Cancer – What you should know

Is it cancer?

Cancer in its early stages can be difficult to diagnose. Some symptoms may suggest that cancer can be the cause.
Although most people with these symptoms do not have cancer, we suggest you see
the doctor for a check up. For additional information click on the links below.
Suspected cancer NICE information for public

The list below is not exhaustive and does not cover all types of cancer.
If you are worried about cancer see your doctor.

European Code Against Cancer

Twelve ways to reduce your cancer risk

  1. Do not smoke. Do not use any form of tobacco.
  2. Make your home smoke free. Support smoke-free policies in your workplace.
  3. Take action to be a healthy body weight.
  4. Be physically active in everyday life. Limit the time you spend sitting.
  5. Have a healthy diet:
    Eat plenty of whole grains, pulses, vegetables and fruits.
    Limit high-calorie foods (foods high in sugar or fat) and avoid sugary drinks.
    Avoid processed meat; limit red meat and foods high in salt.
    If you drink alcohol of any type, limit your intake. Not drinking alcohol is better for cancer prevention.
  6. Avoid too much sun, especially for children. Use sun protection. Do not use sunbeds.
  7. In the workplace, protect yourself against cancer-causing substances by following health and safety instructions.
  8. Find out if you are exposed to radiation from naturally high radon levels in your home. Take action to reduce high radon levels.
  9. For women:
    Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s cancer risk. If you can, breastfeed your baby. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk of certain cancers. Limit use of HRT.
  10. Ensure your children take part in vaccination programmes for:
    Human papillomavirus (HPV) (for girls).
  11. Take part in organized cancer screening programmes for:
    Bowel cancer (men and women)
    Breast cancer (women)
    Cervical cancer (women).

Follow the link for further information
cancer research uk preventing-cancer
European Code Against Cancer

Lung Cancer

Who is at risk?

  • Smokers. Smoking puts you at high risk of lung cancer. Up to 80% of all lung cancers occur in smokers. Smoking also increases the risk of other types of cancer and also increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and lung disease (COPD).
  • People who have been exposed to asbestos. Smoking in addition to asbestos exposure further increases the risk
  • People with chronic Obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

See your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms

  • Cough that persists longer than three weeks
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest or shoulder pain without any obvious cause
  • Losing weight without any obvious cause
  • Shortness of breath with out any obvious cause
  • Persistent cough without any reason or change in the pattern of your normal cough (in people with COPD)
  • Hoarse voice which persists longer than 2 or 3 weeks.
  • New lumps in the neck which doesn’t go away or increases in size
  • Unexplained changes in your chronic chest symptoms.

Stomach and Upper GI Cancer

Who is at risk

  • If you had peptic ulcer surgery over 20 years ago
  • If you have abnormality in your food pipe called ‘Barret’s Oesophagus’ or other specific abnormality detected on endoscopy.

See your doctor if you experince any of the following symptoms

  • Food sticks in the chest or neck when you eat.
  • Pain in the upper part of the tummy and losing weight. You may or may not have back pain in addition.
  • Losing weight without obvious reasons.
  • Persistent vomiting and losing weight.
  • Indigestion (i.e. dicomfort or pain in the upper abdomen or chest that happens after meals. May also have nausea or feel bloated) with any of the above or new indigestion for the first time after age 54.

Bowel cancer

Who is at risk?

  • If you had ulcerative colitis for long time. You will be told if screening is necessary.

When to see doctor

  • If you are aged 60 or over: Passing red blood when you go to toilet for more than 6 weeks OR change in bowel habits to looser stools and or go more often to toilet than normal.
  • Aged 40 years or older: Passing blood in motion associated with change in bowels to looser stools or going more often than normal.
  • Feeling tired with out any obvious cause (which may be related to anaemia due to?bleeding from the bowel)

Breast cancer

Who is at risk?

  • Been on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) treatment either now or in the past.

How to identify cancer early

  • Be breast aware. Know what your breasts normally feels like. Check your breasts after the period.
  • See doctor if you notice any new lumps in the breast or any change in shape or size of the breasts or changes like excoriation of nipple or blood in nipple discharge.

When to see doctor

For men and women at any age

  • discrete, hard lump in the breast region which is fixed and may be associated with tethering of skin.

For women:

  • Any eczema or excoriation of nipple on one side.
  • Nipple distortion or nipple discharge on one side only which has blood in it.
  • Lump in breast that is still present after the next period or a lump that is increasing in size.
  • Any lump that persists after the next period, any lump that enlarges.
  • In women after menopause any breast lump present which has not been present before.

For men, aged 50 years and older

  • Firm lump under the nipple on one side. There may not be changes in the nipple or the skin surrounding it.

NOTE: Breast lump which is not hard, not fixed?and there is no tethering of skin in women younger than 30 years and/or breast pain or discomfort on its own without any breast abnormality are usually not sign of cancer.

Gynaecological cancer

Regular cervical smear helps to identify changes that can progress to cancer. Early treatment helps to prevent cancer

When to see doctor

  • Any bleeding after cessation of periods (postmenopausal)
  • Any unexplained lump or ulcer in the vulval region which bleeds.
  • Persistent bleeding in between periods
  • Women specially if 50 or over see doctor if you have any of the following symptoms particulary more than 12 times per month.
    – Peristent abdominal bloating.
    – Feeling full and or loss of apetite.
    – Abdominal or pelvic pain.
    – Increased urinary urgency and or frequency. (Need to go to toilet immediately and often)

Urological cancer

When to see doctor

For both men and women

  • Visible blood in urine and no pain on passing urine. Pain AND blood in urine can be due to cystitis.
  • Recurrent or persistent urinary tract infection and blood on testing in people aged 40 years and above. Blood in urine can be present on testing even though you can not see with naked eye.
  • Persistent blood in urine on testing (not visible on looking) in people aged 50 and above

For men

  • Swelling in body of testis
  • Mass or ulcer in glans of penis or prepuce (front part)
  • Urinary symptoms like waking up at night to pass urine, taking time to start passing urine and urine flow is slow and also dribbling at the end could be sign of enlarged prostate which is not cancer.

Prostate cancer can present with above symptoms. Also any back or bone pain, blood in urine, weight loss with out obvious cause or erectile dysfunction.

PSA testing to detect prostate cancer

If you have urinary symptoms your doctor may consider PSA testing as part of the assessment of symptoms. Using PSA to screen for prostate cancer is not recommended as it does not appear to help you to live longer and may harm by needing to undergo unnecessary tests. For further information on PSA click the link below.

Worried about risk of cancer?

If you are worried that you may have higher risk than normal because of family history, please see your doctor to discuss. It helps if you have accurate history of the type of cancers your family members had and the age at which they developed.
For further information see the link below. This site is meant for GPs but you may find it
informative as it is easy to read and understand.
Northern Genetics Service