Doctor shares warning signs of seven silent killer cancers

Cancer symptoms: Top 14 early signs to look out for

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the UK, accounting for around a quarter of fatalities every year.

To improve the chance of receiving successful treatment for the disease, getting a diagnosis as soon as possible is key.

However, in some cases this can be difficult as early symptoms could be mild or mistaken for signs of less serious conditions.

An expert warned of seven “silent killer” cancers to be wary of – so-called for this exact reason.

Doctor Ahmed El-Modir, consultant oncologist at Spire Little Aston Hospital, shared the signs of bowel, cervical, liver, lung, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancer to look out for with the Liverpool Echo.

Bowel cancer

Also known as colorectal cancer, bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK.

Common signs that should ring alarm bells include persistent abdominal pain, bloating, cramps and changes in your bowel habits (such as constipation, diarrhoea or thinner stools).

You may also experience blood in your stools, have the urge to open your bowels even after recently passing stools, and unintentionally lose weight.

The NHS advises speaking to your GP if these problems continue for three weeks or more.

Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer typically grows very slowly and can often be picked up through a cervical screening test.

Symptoms to look for include vaginal bleeding in between your periods, during or after sex and after menopause, heavier periods, changes to your vaginal discharge, pain during sex and pain in your lower back, lower abdomen and pelvic area.

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Dr El-Modir explained that cervical cancer is more common in those aged under 45 and those with a weakened immune system, for example, due to HIV or AIDS.

Other risk factors include if you:

  • Have given birth to children before age 17
  • Have had multiple births
  • Have not been vaccinated against HPV
  • Previously had bladder, kidney, vaginal or vulval cancer.

Liver cancer

Often symptoms of liver cancer will relate to digestion issues. These can include nausea, vomiting, paler stools, darker urine and feeling full after eating only a small amount of food.

Some patients may notice a lump on the top right side of your abdomen, feel pain in this area, and experience abdominal swelling that isn’t caused by eating.

Other symptoms include:

  • Jaundice
  • Pain in your right shoulder
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and feeling unwell.

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Lung cancer

Cancer of the lungs is one of the most common forms of the disease in the UK.

Warning signs include a persistent cough, breathlessness when performing activities that usually aren’t a strain, coughing up blood, fatigue, loss of appetite, pain in your chest or shoulders, repeated or persistent chest infections, and unintentional weight loss.

Common risk factors include smoking and exposure to toxic chemicals such as asbestos, arsenic and coal fumes.

Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is more common among people with ovaries aged over 50, although you can develop it at any age.

Symptoms can often be mistaken for periods and include abdominal bloating, back pain, fatigue and persistent pain or tenderness in your pelvic area.

Other signs to look for include constipation, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, feeling full after eating only a small amount, unintentional weight loss, sudden urges to urinate and urinating more often.

Pancreatic cancer

The pancreas is a gland in the abdomen that creates digestive juices and hormones.

Symptoms can include bloating, changes in your stools, constipation, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.

Other signs could include:

  • Back pain and pain in your upper abdomen,
  • Jaundice
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Fatigue.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer can go by unnoticed for a long time as symptoms usually only occur once the tumour is large enough to press against the urethra.

Symptoms can include difficulty urinating, needing to urinate more often and the sensation that your bladder is not completely empty even after urinating, however, some will not experience any symptoms.

If you experience any cancer symptoms you should speak to your GP.

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