Urgent warning millions at risk of 6 deadliest cancers – how many symptoms would you spot?

A LUMP on the breast, blood in the stool and sudden unexplainable weight loss.

We think we know the symptoms of most cancers – except we don’t.


Experts are encouraging people to be more aware of less-known symptomsCredit: Getty Images

This is especially the case for the most deadly versions of the disease, for which symptom awareness is as low as one per cent in the UK.

Anna Jewell, of the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce, said this was “deeply concerning”.

“It’s one of the many challenges that we’re facing in the fight against these deadly diseases,” she said.

Lung, pancreatic, liver, brain, oesophageal and stomach are the most deadly cancers, responsible for almost half of all cancer deaths in the UK.

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According to UK wide survey just two and three per cent of Brits knew all the signs of oesophogeal and stomach cancers respectively.

While only one per cent were able to list the symptoms of liver cancer.

The research carried out by the LSCT also found that only seven per cent of Brits knew all the symptoms of pancreatic cancer.

And nine per cent of people could spot the signs of lung cancer, while knowledge of brain tumour symptoms was higher but still only 20 per cent.

Experts are encouraging people to be more aware of lesser known symptoms that could signal early disease and report them to their GPs.

Dr Marnix Jansen, cancer specialist at UCL said: “Public awareness of the common signs is crucial if we’re going to tackle the problem of late diagnosis.”

Anna is also calling on all UK government to “commit to increasing survival rates for less survivable cancers to 28 per cent by 2029.”

Previously, the LSCT reported that many patients with a less survivable cancer will only be diagnosed after an emergency admission to hospital after symptoms have become severe.

Some 31 per cent of Brits said had put off seeking medical advice when experiencing symptoms which were later shown to be caused by a less survivable cancer, the research found.

These late diagnoses account for, in part, the catastrophic prognoses for thousands of people each year, the LSCT said,

Do you know the symptoms?

Test your knowledge of the symptoms of the six most deadly cancers.

Lung cancer

  • lingering cough,
  • feeling tired
  • losing your appetite

Pancreatic cancer

  •  persistent stomach ache
  • backache
  • indigestion
  • unexplained weight loss
  • bowel habit changes

Liver cancer

  • weakness and tiredness
  • pain in the abdomen
  • swelling of the abdomen due to a build-up of fluid (ascites) 
  • pain in the right shoulder
  • appetite loss and feeling sick 
  • weight loss
  • yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • pale bowel motions
  • fever

Brain cancer

  • headaches
  • vomiting
  • seizures
  • weakness
  • vision or speech problems
  • behaviour changes

Oesophageal cancer

  • weight loss
  • difficulty swallowing
  • pain behind the breastbone
  • a hoarse cough
  • indigestion and heartburn
  • a lump under the skin

Stomach cancer

  • heartburn
  • feeling full after small portions of food
  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • indigestion
  • unintentional weight loss
  • feeling bloated after eating
  • trouble swallowing

Source: Cancer Research and the Mayo Clinc

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