MP COLUMN: Look out for the warning signs of cancer

Mary Glindon, North Tyneside MP.Mary Glindon, North Tyneside MP.
Mary Glindon, North Tyneside MP.
Covid hogs the headlines but ordinary life and death carries on as normal in the form of a variety of cancers.

An alliance of charities is trying to highlight the fact that a handful of what they call less survivable cancers have an average five-year survival rate of just 16% compared to nearly 70% for other cancers, which are diagnosed earlier.

The less survivable cancers and account for half all cancer deaths. That is nearly 70,000 deaths a year.

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The cancers in question concern the lung, liver, brain, oesophagus, pancreas and stomach.

Signs of these cancers are often found in emergency settings when symptoms have become severe but that may be too late. As with all cancers, early diagnosis is crucial for survival.

The problem is that these less survivable cancers are difficult to diagnose. Screening programmes are limited or non-existent and most people are unaware of common symptoms.

The relative success in the diagnosis and treatment of the other cancers shows that concerted action can work. I’m backing the charities involved in this work to encourage the government to increase survival rates by eliminating avoidable delays in diagnosis and proactively investing in research and treatment options.

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We can also all help save our lives and those of our loved ones by being more aware of the symptoms.

Red flags for less survivable cancers could include indigestion, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, a loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, a persistent cough, unexplained tiredness, headaches or nausea.

The key message is to seek medical help swiftly if you notice anything is unusual for you. Better safe than sorry.

You can find more details at