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Get early advice and treatment for cancer signs, urge GP

Image with the word 'cancer'

Cancer professionals and GPs are urging people to be aware of the general signs and symptoms of cancer and to contact their GP if they are experiencing these.

This follows a significant drop, of up to 70%, in the number of red flag referrals since the start of the pandemic.

Dr Yvonne McGivern, a GP and Macmillan Primary Care Director for the NI Cancer Network said, “Cancer is a common condition. It is estimated that one in two people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. Being aware of general signs and symptoms linked to the condition can help in early detection. This is important because the earlier a cancer is detected, the better the chances of successful treatment. If you regularly experience any of these symptoms, it is important that you see your doctor and have your symptoms checked out.”

Some of the common signs and symptoms that people should be seeing their GP to check include:
• coughing up blood;
• blood in urine;
• blood mixed through bowel motion (stools);
• a change in bowel habit that lasts for more than six weeks;
• unexplained, significant weight loss (5kg/10lbs over a couple of months);
• a lump anywhere on your body;
• changes on your skin or to an existing mole (such as itching, bleeding or a change in shape or colour);
• a sore that doesn’t heal;
• symptoms that refuse to clear up, eg a cough or hoarseness that lasts for more than three weeks.

Although health and social care services have been scaled back to focus on the response to COVID-19 (coronavirus), the vast majority of health and social care services are still open.

Robust health infection procedures are in place in GP practices to reduce the risk of spread of the virus. GPs will speak to patients over the phone initially and will arrange to see them in person at the clinic, if required.

Useful websites:
Cancer – www.becancerawareni.info/what-cancer