Symptom Awareness This World Cancer Day

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is highlighting the general signs and symptoms of cancer in a bid to raise awareness and boost outcome rates this World Cancer Day.

An average of 9,400 people face a cancer diagnosis each year in Northern Ireland, however it's known that early diagnosis leads to a greater chance of survival and successful treatment outcomes.

For that reason, the agency is appealing to members of the public with any health concerns to seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Consultant in Public Health at the PHA, Dr Louise Herron said: "It can be difficult to talk about cancer, but by discussing it openly and making sure that we, and those around us, are aware of the key signs and symptoms, we can improve outcomes if cancer develops. It is important for everyone to be aware of warning signs which need to be investigated to ensure quick diagnosis and treatment."

Symptoms to be aware of include:

• coughing up blood or blood-stained phlegm (sputum)

• a persistent cough (more than three weeks)

• a mole which begins to change, such as getting larger or inflamed, or developing irregular edges

• blood in a bowel motion

• starting to bleed again after the menopause

• mouth ulcers that have not healed after three weeks

• food regularly seeming to stick on the way down when you swallow.

As well as taking immediate action when worrying symptoms arise, there are many lifestyle changes that can help reduce your risk of developing cancer.

These are:

• If you smoke, stop
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• Keep alcohol consumption within safe limits

• Take regular exercise and aim to keep your weight within the recommended BMI range

• Avoid over exposure to ultraviolet radiation from either sunbeds or the sun – use sunscreen, seek shade, wear sun glasses and a hat. Check your skin regularly for any changes.

Those called for routine screening are also encouraged to attend their appointments and make use of the tests when offered.

Dr Herron continued: "Northern Ireland has three excellent cancer screening programmes in place to help detect the first signs of cancer. These are the cervical, breast and bowel cancer screening programmes."

A number of online resources provide further information and support services about cancer signs, symptoms and preventative measures. See below:

Stop Smoking NI

Drugs and Alcohol NI

Choose to Live Better- for simple steps to help you lose weight.

Care in the Sun

Cancer Screening NI

Be Cancer Aware - for further information about cancer signs, symptoms and what to do if you're concerned.


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