The first thing to remember if you’re worried you have cancer is that you’re not alone. The realities of cancer can make you scared, anxious, sad or angry – and we are here to help.
You should always speak to a medical professional before you make any assumptions. In many cases, symptoms could be the result of something far less harmful. Book in with your GP as soon as you can if you ever notice anything out of the ordinary, even if it’s mild.
The risk factors for cancer can vary enormously based on the type of cancer, and your individual circumstances, such as your family history.
Generally, you may be at higher risk if you fall under these categories:
If you’re a smoker
If you’re overweight
If you don’t exercise regularly
If you drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
However, age and family history also play a vital part, while some more specific conditions could increase your risk. For example, if you’ve had viral infections in the past such as human papillomavirus (HPV), or if you have a history of excessive sun exposure, or contact with chemicals. You can stay safe by keeping up to date with any screening appointments offered by the NHS.
We understand how scary it can be if you begin to notice symptoms you’ve never seen before. Don’t panic – just book yourself in to see a professional. The sooner a cancer is detected, the higher chance of a successful treatment.
Common symptoms to be aware of
Every cancer is different, so you may experience different symptoms depending on where in the body is affected. However, even if you don’t meet the risk factors, you should always visit a doctor if:
You have changes to your toilet habits
You no longer want to eat, or experience tummy pain
You feel excessively tired
You gain or lose weight unexpectedly
You notice headaches, vision or hearing changes
You experience bleeding or bruising for no reason
You notice any new lumps or swelling.
These are just some of the broader symptoms – there may be more localised symptoms such as changes to moles. If anything on your body changes, always speak to a doctor.
If you’re waiting for results
You will likely be feeling very anxious at this time, and it may be tempting to search for more information online. Be mindful that this could end up making you feel worse. If you must seek online help, only look at trusted sources that are updated regularly, such as the World Health Organisation or specific cancer charities.
If your tests come back negative for cancer, your doctor will talk you through the next steps. There may be other issues to address depending on the changes going on in your body. You may also be placed on an ‘active monitoring’ list, which means doctors may ask you to come in for check-ups, particularly if you’re high risk.
If you are diagnosed with cancer, this will be the first part of an overwhelming journey. We are here to help you every step of the way, putting you in touch with medical professionals who will talk you through your options.
I’m worried I have cancer – what support is available?
Please rest assured that, if you do get bad news, there is a wealth of support available to help you. You’ll be seen by your hospital’s Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT), who will be specialists in specific types of cancer. They will give you your options and keep you informed at every stage of the process.
You can always visit The Leveson Centre at York Community Stadium. This is available for patients and their loved ones to come in for a cuppa and a chat away from a clinical environment, with free complementary therapy sessions available to support cancer patients.
You are not alone
You might be feeling overwhelmed or anxious at this time. Please remember that we are here to listen to you, and guide you on the best way forward. If you’re concerned about anything, call us on 01904 764 466, or find out more at the websites below.