Cancer is a condition where cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably. The cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs.
Cancer sometimes begins in one part of the body before spreading to other areas. This process is known as metastasis.
1 in 2 people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. In the UK, the 4 most common types of cancer are:
There are more than 200 different types of cancer, and each is diagnosed and treated in a particular way.
Click here for information about other types of cancer.
It’s important to be aware of any new or worrying symptoms.
Although it’s unlikely to be cancer, it’s important to speak to a GP so they can investigate. Finding cancer early means it’s easier to treat.
If your GP suspects cancer, they’ll refer you to a specialist – usually within 2 weeks.
How to contact a GP during coronavirus
To contact your GP surgery:
- Visit their website
- Use the NHS App
- Call them
All GP surgeries are making sure it’s safe for you to attend appointments during coronavirus (COVID-19).
Click here for more information about using the NHS and other health services during coronavirus (COVID-19).
Changes in bowel habits
Speak to a GP if you’ve noticed these changes and it’s lasted for 3 weeks or more:
- tummy discomfort
- blood in your poo
- diarrhoea or constipation for no obvious reason
- a feeling of not having fully emptied your bowels after going to the toilet
- pain in your stomach or back passage (anus)
Speak to a GP if you’ve had bloating for 3 weeks or more.
You should also speak to a GP if you have any unexplained bleeding, such as:
- blood in your urine
- vaginal bleeding between periods
- vaginal bleeding a year or more after the menopause (postmenopausal bleeding)
- bleeding from your bottom
- blood when you cough
- blood in your vomit
Coughing, chest pain and breathlessness
Contact a GP if you’ve had a cough for 3 weeks or more.
Symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain may also be a sign of a condition such as pneumonia. Speak to a GP straight away if you have these types of symptoms.
Lump in your breast
Speak to a GP if you notice a lump in your breast or if you have a lump that’s rapidly increasing in size elsewhere on your body.
Your GP will refer you to a specialist for tests if they think you may have cancer.
Speak to a GP if you have a mole that:
- changes shape or looks uneven
- changes colour, gets darker or has more than 2 colours
- starts itching, crusting, flaking or bleeding
- gets larger or more raised from the skin
Any of the above changes means there’s a chance you have malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer.
Unexplained weight loss
You should also speak to a GP if you’ve lost a lot of weight over the last couple of months that cannot be explained by changes to your diet, exercise or stress.
Click here for more information about unintentional weight loss.
The following links have more useful information about cancer: