Doctor outlines eight red flag cancer signs you should never ignore


Catching cancer early means it’s easier to treat. However, research has found that around half of Britons put off contacting their GP for up to six months after noticing red flag signs. 

A YouGov poll of 2,468 people for Cancer Research UK found that just 48 percent of those who had experienced a warning cancer sign, such as unexplained weight loss and a new or unusual lump, contacted their GP within half a year.

Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s head of health and patient involvement, said: “You might think of key symptoms like coughing up blood or unexplained bleeding as hard to ignore, but the research shows that many do.”

Therefore, the expert has outlined the key symptoms that should be checked by a doctor immediately.

Blood in your urine

The NHS explains that spotting blood when you go for a number one warrants making an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. The red flag, which can be painless, could be a sign of bladder cancer, for instance.

Changes in bowel habits

Considered a tell-tale sign of bowel cancer, changes in your bowel habits can include needing to poo more or less frequently than normal, changes to the consistency and shape of your poo as well as blood in the toilet bowl. 

NHS chiefs are urging people not to be “prudish about poo”, as they are often reluctant to talk about it due to embarrassment.

Stomach pain and indigestion

While symptoms like these could be triggered by food poisoning or a stomach bug, experiencing these signs for four weeks or more should be discussed with your doctor. 

The NHS explains that pain at the top part of your tummy and your back, which may feel worse when you’re eating or lying down and better when you lean forward, could be a symptom of pancreatic cancer.

Blood in your poo

The most common cause of blood in your poo is haemorrhoids, but it could also be a sign of cancer. So getting this sign checked is important. 

Weight loss

If you notice you look thinner and haven’t been trying to lose any weight, then it’s sensible to flag this with your doctor.

Unusual weight loss was the second highest risk ­factor for bowel, lung, pancreatic and kidney cancers, according to researchers from the University of Oxford.

Persistent cough

We’re currently in the peak season for coughs, but if this problem persists for more than three weeks, it could be a sign of lung cancer. The NHS recommends getting a cough that has been persistent for more than three weeks checked by a GP.

Unusual lumps

Another important sign to scan your body for is an unusual lump or swelling. You could check for lumps in the breasts or testicles in the shower. 

Pain in your back

There are many reasons for back pain, but it could also signal a sinister health issue. According to the NHS, pain in your lower back, pelvis or lower tummy could be symptoms of cancer.

Dr Sharp explained that the signs described above won’t signify cancer in most cases, but spotting the potentially deadly condition early can make a real difference so symptom awareness is crucial.



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