Cancer searches soar after George Alagiah death - 15 key symptoms to look for

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Self-checking is important (Image: Getty Images)
Self-checking is important (Image: Getty Images)

After the tragic death of BBC news presenter George Alagiah from bowel cancer, the NHS reported a 243% increase in people looking at the symptoms on their site last week.

NHS England’s national clinical director for cancer explained that the much-loved journalist’s death “has made many of us reflect on our own health”. But while this is true, we should really already know the various cancer symptoms considering 1 in 2 people in the UK will get some form of disease in their lifetime, and the earlier it’s caught the better.

Beth Vincent, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, says: “You know your body best, so it’s important to get your doctor’s advice if you notice anything that’s not normal for you or isn’t going away.

"It probably won’t be cancer. But if it is, spotting it at an early stage means that treatment is more likely to be successful.” While most symptoms likely have an innocuous cause, here are some of the signs of different cancers across the body that it’s worth getting checked...

Cancer searches soar after George Alagiah death - 15 key symptoms to look for eidexiqreiqtrinvPeople can keep a look out for a range of symptoms (Getty Images)


Symptoms are not always obvious and some cancers are spotted in eye tests. Check eyes for blurring, wiggly lines, flashes, irritation, bulging or a dark patch.

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Signs of brain tumours can vary depending on their size and location, but people may experience symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, headaches, seizures, weakness, memory loss and changes to personality or behaviour. Some might also suffer sensory changes, meaning they lose their sense of smell, hearing or sight.


Mouth cancer can affect any part of your mouth. Weight loss, lumps or white/red patches in your mouth, pain, difficulty swallowing and a hoarse throat are all signs that you could be affected.


This is the most common cancer in the UK, and 80%of women who get it are under 50. Symptoms include a lump in a boob or armpit, breast thickening or swelling, irritation and dimpled, red or flaky skin. Other signs are nipple discharge and boobs altering size or shape.


In the early stages there are few signs. But as it progresses people may have a persistent cough, fatigue, breathlessness, weight loss or coughing up blood.


Of course blood cancer symptoms vary depending on the type, but unexplained bruising, night sweats, lumps and paleness are cause for concern. Additionally if you have unexplained weight loss, fatigue, persistent infections, rashes, fever and itchy skin it may also be a sign of a blood cancer.


Gastric cancer is not a very common type of cancer. Although the signs that are often mistaken for less serious ailments are indigestion, trapped wind and frequent burping, feeling bloated or full after meals and constant stomach pain.


Jaundice can identify this cancer. Itchy skin, dark pee and lighter poo are also symptoms, as are digestion issues, weight loss, fatigue and a lump on the side of your stomach.


Symptoms include feeling bloated all the time, a swollen tummy and stomach pain. Sufferers may also lose their appetite and pee more often.


Signs of kidney cancer may not be obvious. But symptoms can include blood in the urine, a lump in the kidney area or a pain between the ribs and hip, tiredness, feeling unwell.


The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless swelling or lump in one testicle. Most of these are in the scrotum and not a sign of cancer, but it is always best to check. Other signs you may have testicular cancer include a feeling of heaviness or pain in the testicle or scrotum, or a sudden swelling. You may also experience a dull ache in the lower belly or groin.

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Regular smear tests are crucial. Symptoms can include bleeding during or after sex or between periods and unusually heavy periods. You may also have pain during sex or lower-back pain.


The late Deborah James, who died from bowel cancer last year, relentlessly reminded people to ‘check your poo’ as symptoms are blood in your stools. A change in bowel habits, stomach pain or fatigue are also signs.


Skin cancer is rapidly on the rise. Some signs are sores that don’t heal, skin that looks unusual, red or itchy, bleeds that last more than four weeks,a rapidly growing spot.


Having primary bone cancer, which is where the cancer starts in the bone, is rare. But signs include bone pain, swelling near the site, fractures or breaks in weak bones, fatigue and weight loss.

Lydia Veljanovski

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