Cancer symptoms: The 15 main symptoms you should never ignore & how to reduce your risk


Cancer can cause many different symptoms, some obvious and some more subtle. Some symptoms develop early and are therefore important warnings signs which should be investigated by your doctor while other symptoms can indicate the cancer has progressed. Experiencing any of these 15 symptoms should be a cause for concern. What to spot?

Cancer is more likely to be cured if it is less advanced when treatment is begun, it is critical that cancer be discovered early, said MSD Manual.

The site added: “Fortunately, most symptoms are usually caused by far less serious conditions. Nonetheless, the development of any of the warning signs of cancer should not be ignored.

“Some of the warning signs are general. That is, they are vague changes that do not help pinpoint any particular cancer.

“Still, their presence can help direct doctors to do the physical examinations and laboratory tests necessary to exclude or confirm a diagnosis.

“Other symptoms are much more specific and steer doctors to a particular kind of cancer or location.”

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Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide.

The most common cancers include:

In men: Prostate, lung and bowel cancers

In women: Breast, lung and colorectal cancers

In children: Leukaemia, brain tumours and lymphoma

Why cancer diagnosis is on the rise more than ever

In a study published in BMJ, consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk was investigated.

Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort

In the study 104,980 participants aged at least 18 years with dietary intakes, records and participants usual food consumption from 3300 different food items.

The results showed how ultra-processed food intake was associated with higher overall cancer risk.

“In this large prospective study, a 10 percent increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in the diet was associated with a significant increase of greater than 10 percent in risks of overall and breast cancer,” concluded the study.

Processed foods are products that are usually made using a mix of group one and two ingredients which include smoked and cured meats, cheeses, fresh bread, bacon, salted or sugared nuts, tinned fruit in syrup, beer and wine.

The main purpose of the processing is to prolong the food’s life or enhance its taste and almost nine percent of calories eaten in the UK are from this group.

Ultra-processed foods usually contain ingredients that most would not recognise the names of.

These ingredients include chemicals, colourings, sweeteners and preservatives.

The most commonly eaten ultra-processed foods in the UK include:

  • Industrialised bread (11 percent)
  • Pre-packaged meals (7.7 percent)
  • Breakfast cereals (4.4 percent)
  • Sausages and other reconstituted meat products (3.8 percent)



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