It’s really important to call your GP and get checked out if you have any of the symptoms below – especially if they last for a while and you can’t explain them.
The five most common signs of cancer in young people are:
- Lumps, bumps and swellings.
These could be anywhere in your body.
- Unexplained tiredness.
When you feel completely exhausted, all of the time, and even a good night’s sleep doesn’t help.
- Mole changes.
This could be a change in the size, shape, colour or texture of a mole, or if it starts bleeding.
The kind of pain that’s persistent and extreme, and doesn’t go away when you take painkillers.
- Significant weight change.
This could be weight loss or weight gain, when you haven’t changed your diet, how much exercise you’re doing, or any medication you’re on.
Other signs and symptoms to watch out for are:
- Headaches or dizziness that won’t go away
- Getting out of breath more easily than normal
- Bleeding you can’t explain – for instance in your urine or poo, after sex, between periods, or if you vomit
- Unexplained bruising
- Ongoing changes when you go for a poo – like constipation or diarrhoea (or both), pain, or feeling like you’ve not quite finished going
- Sweating a lot at night.
During the coronavirus crisis, it’s still really important to call your GP if you’re worried about any of these symptoms.
If it turns out not to be cancer, you haven’t wasted anyone’s time. You’ll still be listened to and taken seriously – the NHS is actively encouraging people to contact their GP if they’re worried about possible cancer symptoms.
If it does turn out to be cancer, then getting diagnosed early is really important, and can save lives.
Either way, you’ll have done the right thing.
Hear from young people on the importance of getting diagnosed early:
Talking to your doctor
Right now, because of the coronavirus crisis, your GP appointment is most likely to be by phone or video. If you do need to see a professional face-to-face, they’ll make sure you can do this safely.
Your doctor will want to know as much as possible about what’s going on, but it’s easy to forget things – so it’s worth writing everything down before your appointment. Think about:
- What problems you’re having
- How long you’ve had them
- Whether the problems are permanent or come and go
- Whether they’re getting worse.
And if you realise that you’ve forgotten something after speaking to your doctor, it’s important to arrange another appointment. You’re never wasting your doctor’s time.
If you’re worried…
It’s normal to feel nervous before speaking to your doctor. Plenty of young people feel awkward discussing their bodies. And you might feel worried about what you could find out.
It can help to:
- Write down what you want to say and ask beforehand
- Make a note of your symptoms and when you started to feel unwell
- Share as much information as possible – little details can make a big difference
- Have someone from your family on the call with you
- Be open and honest – remember that doctors talk to people about all kinds of problems all day, every day
- Ask your doctor to repeat anything you don’t understand
- Make sure you know what will happen next before you finish the call.
Conversations with doctors don’t always go to plan. So if you don’t feel your first appointment goes well, make another one. If that doesn’t go well, make another one again.
You can ask to see another doctor too, if that helps. Don’t worry, doctors won’t be offended if you ask for a second opinion – and remember you have a right to be taken seriously.