One in two people in the UK will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime, but early diagnosis can improve the chances of survival.
The condition causes cells in the body to grow and multiply uncontrollably and if left untreated, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body.
It will usually develop in one part of the body first, so being able to spot symptoms and seek treatment early is key, as cancer is much easier to treat in the early stages.
Abbas Kanani, pharmacist at Chemist Click, says that how you feel when you wake up in the morning could be a key warning sign of cancer.
What symptoms should I look for?
Waking up with a sore throat that is “persistent” and has been there for more than two weeks with no sign of improving could be a telltale cancer sign, according to Mr Kanani.
The pharmacist also said that the same goes for a cough.
He told The Express: “Smokers often wake up with a cough in the morning. However, a persistent cough for longer than two weeks should be checked out. Especially if you smoke.”
A persistent cough is a key warning sign of lung cancer, which is the third most common cancer type in the UK, while a sore throat could indicate cancer of the throat, laryngeal or thyroid.
Another early morning symptom to be aware of is fatigue, which may leave you feeling exhausted throughout the whole day.
Mr Kanani explained: “It’s normal to feel a little tired in the morning, but if this is not usual for you, or you are noticing fatigue lasting throughout the day, you should get this checked out.”
Constant tiredness is one of the most common signs of cancer, particularly if it is accompanied with other symptoms.
Mr Kanani also warned that in some cases fatigue may come hand in hand with night sweats.
Sweating during the night can be a very early sign of some cancers, but most notably of lymphoma, which is a type of blood cancer.
However, it is important to remember that night sweats can also be caused by many other conditions, including menopause, anxiety, low blood sugar, and Covid-19.
If your symptoms are persistent, it is advised that you speak to your GP to identify the root cause.
What other symptoms could be a sign of cancer?
As well as looking out for telltale signs in the morning, there are several common symptoms to be aware of that occur with almost every cancer type.
The NHS advises looking out for the following:
Changes in bowel habits
Tummy discomfort, blood in your poo and diarrhoea or constipation for no obvious reasons can be a sign of cancer, particularly if they last for three weeks or more.
Other warning signs include a feeling of not having emptied your bowels after going to the toilet, and pain in your stomach or back passage.
Bloating can be linked to other health conditions, including food intolerance, coeliac disease and irritable bowel syndrome, but it can also be a sign of cancer.
You should speak to a GP if you have had bloating for three weeks or more.
Unexplained bleeding is another common sign associated with cancer. It can include blood in urine, vaginal bleeding between periods, blood from bottom, in your vomit or when you cough.
Coughing, chest pain and breathlessness
If you suffer from coughing, chest pain and breathlessness for three weeks or more, it could be a sign of cancer.
A lump in your breasts
Breast lumps are often the first symptom of breast cancer for many women, but they can be benign in some cases. These are usually areas of normal lumpiness just before a period, cysts, or fibroadenoma.
However, it is always important to get a lump checked by your GP to find out if it is cancerous.
If you have a mole that changes shape or looks uneven, changes colour, starts itching, crusting or bleeding, or gets larger or more raised from the skin, it could be a sign you have malignant melanoma, which is a form of skin cancer.
In most cases, a suspicious mole will be surgically removed and examined to check if it is cancerous.
Unexplained weight loss
If you unintentionally lose a lot of weight and this cannot be explained by changes to your diet, exercise, or stress level, this could be a warning sign of serious illness.
If your wait loss was not caused by dieting or exercising, you should seek advice from your GP as it may be an indication of an illness that needs treating.
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