In the UK the leading cause of death from disease for a young person is cancer, each day seven people between the ages of 13-24 will be diagnosed with cancer and this number is slowly on the rise.
When you think of cancer, you rarely think it’s associated with young people and many ‘at risk’ groups for various cancers refer to ‘old’ age being a common factor. But does this ignorance fail to prepare young people for the diagnosis, and prevent them from being more wary of their lifestyle factors?
With awareness on cancer in young people being scarce, this can cause a delay in a diagnosis; shocking statistics in previous years have shown that a third of the 2,500 young people aged 13 to 24 diagnosed with cancer, received their diagnosis in A&E.
The main factor for this is down to the parents and teenagers not acting on signs of cancer or do not relate them to cancer until it’s too late, and they have to be hospitalised. On average 32% visited their GP three or more times before they even got a referral and 24% of young people had been to a GP but then went to A&E when their symptoms got worse.
Different cancers can show a wide range of symptoms, but the five symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored are:
Pain- This is a pain that is continuous and doesn’t go away with painkillers.
Lump, bump or swelling- These can appear anywhere on the body and should always require an investigation.
Fatigue- Extreme tiredness continuously could be a sign of cancer.
Significant weight loss- Losing weight without an explanation to why you’re losing weight.
Mole changes- Observing your moles is always good practice to avoid any complications in the future, but any changes to the colour, shape or size should always be investigated.
Everyone reacts differently when receiving a diagnosis of cancer and there’s no right or wrong way to deal with it, but for a young person this diagnosis could hit them hard. As well as a drastic change of lifestyle, they may have to face problems with fertility in the future.
One charity that’s making a difference is the Teenage Cancer Trust who dedicates their time and support from the moment a young person hears the word ‘cancer’; “We know that having cancer at a young age comes with its own particular set of challenges. Our services put the needs of young people first and allow them to face those challenges together”.
Although the symptoms listed above can be related to another condition, don’t delay in seeing your doctor, an early diagnosis is vital for treating cancer.