Recognising the early warning signs of cancer for adolescents and young adults is the first step towards timely treatment and achieving the best outcome for these young patients.
The most common signs of cancer in young people aged 15-25 are unexplained and persistent:
- Pain that doesn’t go away with painkillers. The pain can be experienced anywhere in or on your body. It may be severe enough to wake you up at night. Remember that to be of concern the pain should be persistent and unexplained.
- An unexplained lump, bump or swelling, which can appear anywhere on or in your body such in your bones, joints, muscles, neck, armpits, groin or stomach.
- Significant weight loss not related to exercise or dieting.
- Extreme tiredness. Another way of saying this is ‘chronic fatigue.’ This doesn’t mean struggling to get out of bed on a school/work day, it means absolute exhaustion that doesn’t go away.
- High temperature or ‘fever’ that persists for a number of weeks. This could include night sweats.
- Changes in a mole. The key changes to be aware of are itching, bleeding, change in shape, colour, asymmetry and blurred or jagged edges of a mole.
- Nagging, unrelieved headaches that may also cause blurred or double vision or make you feel unsteady on your feet or unable to think clearly.
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, discuss these with your GP. Your doctor can do some blood tests, scans or other tests to find out more.