The early detection of cancer means finding cancer before there are symptoms or as soon as possible after they develop. Its aim is to find the cancer before it has time to spread to other parts of the body. This can be done through screening programmes (see Cancer Screening) or by recognising early warning signs.
Early detection can help to reduce the time before diagnosis and, hopefully, lower the mortality rates for many types of cancer. It is important to always seek medical advice as soon as you notice any unusual changes.
Possible Warning Signs
Unfortunately, while some cancers have early warning signs that are easy to identify many do not. The important message is to be aware of any changes that are out of the ordinary for you and to see a health professional as soon as possible to discuss what these changes may mean.
Changes to look out for include:
- Problems with your ‘water works'
- Changes in moles or freckles
- A lump or change in your breast, testicle or elsewhere
- Unexpected weight loss
- Changes in bowel habits.
Any unusual or new symptom that continues for more than two weeks should be checked by a doctor.
Bowel Cancer Awareness: Understanding your bowel - This leaflet provides information on your bowel, how the bowel works, looking after your bowel and what you should look for.
Being Breast Aware: Early detection can make a difference - This card describes changes in your breast(s) that you should see your family doctor about as soon as possible.
Gynaecological Cancers - This leaflet has been prepared to help you understand more about the different gynaecological cancers. It gives information about the main types, abnormal signs to look for and some ways to reduce your risk.
Last Updated: Tuesday 26 March, 2013