Earlier the better

"The earlier we find cancer, the easier it is to treat"

If you are worried about any potential symptoms, or have noticed an unusual change in your body, the best thing to do is to visit your GP. It’s probably nothing to worry about but if it is cancer, the earlier it’s found, the better. When cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, treatment is often easier and more likely to be effective. For example, 9 out of 10 people survive bowel cancer when it’s diagnosed early. Today, more Scots are detecting cancer early, in fact 25.5% of all breast, lung and bowel cancers in 2015 and 2016 were detected at stage one (the earliest stage).  This is an increase of 9.2 per cent since 2010 and 2011.

In general, outcomes are much better these days. In fact, almost twice as many people survive cancer today compared to 20 years ago.* So, if you’re worried about any potential symptoms, your doctor wants to see you.

 *Source: ISD,  Cancer Survival in Scotland 1987-2011.

A specialist's view…

“Very often when someone is worried about cancer, it’s something they put to the back of their mind. Either because they don’t want to face it or are worried about wasting their doctor's time. However, timing is everything – the earlier a patient comes and sees me with their concerns, the quicker I can help them, which could save their life. If you notice a change in your health, any change, I want to see you. Whether you have unexpected bleeding, found a lump, altered bowel habits, weight loss, an unexplained pain or something else, make an appointment today. Sometimes those around you will notice changes to your health before you do, like a persistent cough. Don’t fob them off, follow it up. You’re not wasting my time, I’m here to listen and to help.”

Dr Paul Baughan, GP


Potential signs and symptoms

Below are some potential signs and symptoms of cancer that are worth visiting your GP about. Remember, having one of these doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer, it could be a sign of something else, but either way, it’s better to have your concern checked.

  • A new lump in the breasts, testicles or anywhere else that appears or an existing lump that gets bigger.
  • A sore that doesn't heal up – in the mouth, throat or on the skin.
  • A mole that changes shape, size or colour.
  • Any growth that appears on the skin and continues to grow. 
  • Coughing up blood, or blood in the urine or mixed through stools (poo).
  • Things that don't clear up, like a cough that doesn't go away, or a pain somewhere that won’t settle.
  • A change in the pattern of going to the toilet. 
  • Unexpected weight loss (when you have not been trying to lose weight).

For more information on other signs and symptoms, visit NHS Inform.

Don't Get Scared, get Checked.