Do not ignore warning signs of cancer

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Cancer is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. In 2012, there were around 14 million new cases of cancer and around 8.2 million deaths from the disease. But despite such alarming numbers, a new study by researchers from the UK finds that most people ignore cancer warning signs, attributing them instead to symptoms of less serious illnesses.   The study involved 1,700 people aged 50 and older in the United Kingdom who completed a health questionnaire listing 17 symptoms, including 10 widely publicized possible cancer symptoms. The symptoms included unexplained cough, bleeding, or significant changes in bowel or bladder activity.
While 53 percent of the participants said they had experienced at least one of the potential cancer symptoms in the previous three months, only 2 percent thought cancer was a possible cause of those symptoms.
In many cases, people attributed potential signs of cancer to reasons such as age, infection, arthritis, cysts and hemorrhoids.  Results showed that 59% of participants who experienced cancer signs visited a doctor. The findings suggest that many people who experience cancer signs do not realize the seriousness of their symptoms.  The article was published Dec. 2 in the journal PLOS One
That’s why it’s important that these symptoms are checked out, especially if they don’t go away. But people could delay seeing a doctor if they don’t acknowledge cancer as a possible cause.  Diagnosing cancer early saves lives because it gives patients a better chance that treatments will be successful.

Fast facts about cancer:

  • Over the next 20 years, the number of new cancer cases is expected to rise by around 70% globally
  • The most common cause of cancer death is lung cancer, which caused 1.59 million deaths worldwide in 2012
  • More than 60% of the world’s total new annual cancer cases occur in Africa, Asia and Central and South America

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about cancer detection and screening. (
Learn more about cancer here:

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