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Seven cancer symptoms that you should never ignore

 Certain red flag symptoms are sometimes early warning signs   Photo:Courtesy

Certain red flag symptoms are sometimes early warning signs of cancer and other serious illnesses.

It's best to get them checked out as soon as you can. These include:

1. Testicles: "If you find a new lump it needs to be examined by the doctor. There are many benign causes for lumps but occasionally it may be testicular cancer," advises Dr Down.

"It has a brilliant survival rate. Almost 100% of men survive after 5-years if it has not spread when it is diagnosed."

2. Breasts: "A new lump in the breast should always be examined by the doctor. It may be only a benign cyst but cancer needs to be excluded first," explains Dr Down. "If breast cancer is found early it can avoid the need for the whole breast to be removed. Stage 0 breast cancer corresponds with a 93% 5-year survival rate, but only 15% if found late at stage 4."

3. Vagina: "Any new lumps, discharge or abnormal bleeding needs to be seen by the doctor. Cancers can occur in this area but infections can also cause infertility and other problems, so get it treated early."

4. Bowel: "New diarrhoea or bleeding/blood in the stool lasting longer than 4 to 6 weeks needs to be sorted out early because sometimes it’s the first sign of bowel cancer," says Dr Down.

5. Urination: "Men with poor urine stream or passing urine more frequently are often developing a prostate problem," she says. "This can be benign requiring a simple tablet that can really help. Sometimes it is due to prostate cancer that can be cured if detected early."

6. Erectile dysfunction: "This is usually psychological and can often be easily treated," says Dr Down. "Occasionally it can point towards a more serious underlying cause such as high blood pressure, diabetes or vascular disease."

7. Chest pains/breathlessness: These can be signs of angina and other heart problems – so always mention them to your doctor.

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