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Cancer signs highlighted

27th August 2010

Researchers have highlighted the eight unexplained symptoms most closely linked to cancer.

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The team from Keele University say the key symptoms include blood in urine, anaemia, rectal blood, coughing up blood, breast lump or mass, difficulty swallowing, post-menopause bleeding and abnormal prostate tests.

However, with more than 200 different types of cancer, which cause many different symptoms, Cancer Research UK said unusual changes in a person’s health should be checked.

Researcher combined the results of 25 previous studies to look for symptoms which gave a one in 20 or higher chance of turning out to be cancer.

They say that these factors could help patients be sent for tests more quickly.

The Keele team also found that in patients below 55, there were only two signs which reached the 'one-in-20' threshold - rectal prostate examination which gave abnormal results, and a breast lump.

Dr Mark Shapley, who led the research, said: "GPs should audit their management and reflect upon these cases as part of their appraisal to improve quality of care.”

Professor Amanda Howe, honorary secretary of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: "It's useful to see these well-known 'red flag' symptoms and signs validated in primary care research, and reinforces the importance of encouraging patients to discuss worrying symptoms early with their GP."

Cancer Research UK said the symptoms highlighted were already thought of as important potential signs of cancer.

A spokesman added: “When cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, treatment is often more likely to be successful.”

 

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