According to a Cancer Research UK study, ½ of those over 50 with signs which could mean cancer will not see a doctor.
The research arose as a new NHS campaign warns the public to visit their doctor about health complaints which seem trivial but could actually indicate cancer.
The study was published in the British Journal of General Practice.
There were more than 1,700 participants in the study who were questioned about whether they had experienced any of 17 changes in their body in recent months.
Ten of the symptoms were “red flag” symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, difficulty swallowing or a sore that does not heal.
Researchers found that more than 900 people had suffered such a problem in the previous three months. But when 50 of them were interviewed in depth, 45% had not seen their general practitioner.
Participants said they were worried about wasting their doctor’s time or assumed that the changes int heir body were a natural consequence of aging while other feared cancer.
Many of those interviewed had red flag symptoms but believed them to be trivial and didn’t need medical attention, especially if they were painless of intermittent.
Researchers also found that patients were more likely to get symptoms checked if they were encouraged to do so by family or friends of if they saw a cancer awareness campaign.
It took some as long as 2 years to mention problems that were bothering them.
Researchers recommend seeking advice from doctors either one the phone or during an appointment, it really could be a life-saver regardless of age.
These are some of the red flags that were identified.
- Persistent cough or hoarseness – could mean lung cancer
- Change in the appearance of a mole – can mean skin cancer
- Persistent change in bowl habits – could mean bowl cancer
- A sore that does not heal – depending the location, can mean mouth cancer
- Persistent difficulty swallowing – can mean esophageal caner
- Unexplained weight loss – can mean several types of cancer
- Persistent change in bladder habits – could mean bladder cancer or prostate cancer
- Unexplained lump – could denote many types of cancer depending where
- Persistent unexplained pain – can mean several types of cancer
- Unexplained bleeding – could mean bowel cancer, cervical cancer or vulvar cancer