Don’t play waiting game with cancer

WHEN it comes to cancer, don’t get scared, get checked.

That’s the advice from the Scottish government, this week launching a £30 million campaign to promote cancer screening services across Scotland.

The Detect Cancer Early campaign aims to boost cancer survival rates by encouraging us all to have those niggling doubts checked by our GP.

Survival rates are higher than ever these days — in fact, twice as many people live through a cancer diagnosis compared to 30 years ago.

The proportion of deaths due to the disease has dropped in the last ten years — by 15 per cent for men, and seven per cent for women.

Still, more than one in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime, and cases diagnosed are on the increase, rising by more than a quarter since the 1970s.

It is hoped that by providing advice on the signs and symptoms of cancer, the campaign will encourage Scots to detect potential problems at an early stage.

Audrey Birt, chair of the Scottish Cancer Coalition, explained: “Detecting cancer early is vital for improving the outcomes for the many thousands of men and women diagnosed with cancer each year.

“When a cancer is detected early, the more effective treatment can be”.

According to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 10,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the city catchment area.

The health authority provides a list of eight danger signs to be aware of, each of which warrant a visit to your GP.

These include lumps which appear or get bigger, sores that don’t heal up in the mouth, throat or skin, moles that change shape size or colour, skin growths, and coughing up blood or finding blood in urine.

Other symptoms to watch out for are persistent conditions which refuse to clear up (e.g. an ongoing cough), changes in toilet routines and unexpected weight loss.

Dr David Linden, an NHS GGC specialist in cancer care, commented: “It seems to be part of the west of Scotland psyche, especially amongst men, to do nothing — even when they have quite significant symptoms.

“Doing nothing is the worst possible option. In most cases, a visit to the doctor will confirm there is nothing to worry about.

“If there is a problem, catching it early greatly increases the chances of a successful outcome”.

If you notice any unusual or persistent changes to your health and you’re worried about it, please contact your GP and make an appointment as soon as possible.

Further information is available at www.nhsinform.co.uk, or on 0800 22 44 88.